Rental Property – The Responsibilities of the Renter and the Owner

When you rent someone’s property, it’s good to know how what your responsibilities are in order not to have inconvenient situations. When some people rent someone else’s property they think that they are responsible only for a few little things and the rest of responsibilities should be taken care by a leasing agent. But usually it is vice versa. When someone rents a house or apartment, they are usually obligated to sign a contract where all the responsibilities of leasing agent and renter are fully described. In case if something happens both parties understand what they are responsible for.

Responsibilities Of Renters

Normally, renters bear responsibility for the area that is around their apartment and for the apartment itself. Usually, these are areas inside the apartment as well as their backyard. So this includes common sense responsibilities and rules of maintenance and cleanliness of the area. Such things such as repairing certain parts of the interior or the exterior or painting the walls are the responsibilities of the renter.

But still, this is not it. Renter is responsible for some other things in leasing agent’s house. If something happens with the bathrooms, the renter is also responsible for fixing it if it’s possible. But if such things happen and that renter doesn’t feel comfortable to accomplish this job she might contact the maintenance contractor for proper help.

Renters must know their responsibilities and always show respect to other renters in their area and not cause damage intentionally. Not picking up trash after yourself if you left it somewhere is the same as intentional littering. Renters that don’t follow these rules are fully responsible for their actions and might be forced to pay fines.

Responsibilities Of Leasing Agents

If something happens with that exterior of the building or the equipment is not working properly then it is the responsibility of the leasing agent. Leasing agent is always supposed to take care of his renters and make sure that they are always provided with all the necessary utilities and that everything is working properly in his apartment. For instance, if problems with water occur in the apartment then the leasing agent he supposed to contact maintenance staff.

And also, one more of responsibilities of a leasing agent taking care of public areas. This is usually that surround that area of the apartment, such as grassy parts of the land.

So basically, the leasing agent is always has to take care of his renters and make sure they don’t have any complaints or concerns. If the leasing agent doesn’t pay attention to any complaints that he’s renters might have, this may lead to having problems with clients or with the local housing authority. Again, if the client or the renter is not provided with what he expected and paid for, he will be very disappointed about the maintenance service. In these cases renter might call a maintenance company to resolve the situation and bill the expense to the owner.

So before you rent an apartment to a renter as a leasing agent make sure that both of the above are working fine. A renter faced with this kind of problems, can contact the department of housing and ask them to provide advice what to do in this situation.

In some cases, leasing agents may break their rules of that agreement and disobey points of the contract. The department of housing is usually responsible for enforcement in this kind of situation and if the renters still have complaints, they have the authority to force the owner to provide a remedy.

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How to Inventory and Assign Value to Estate Personal Property

There is an old saying that goes: What is the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Personal property is the elephant of an estate. It is the responsibility that can take up most of your time, and it provides the estate with the least amount of money for the effort involved. But, dealing with the personal property cannot be avoided. The property must be inventoried, valued, distributed, or sold. Let us start our analysis by looking at what property we have (inventory); then we will determine what it is worth (valuation). In a future post, we will determine what to do with it (distribution/sale).

When you go to the courthouse, the clerk will provide you with the form you will need to fill out for the inventory. The form will ask you to provide general categories and a value for each category you have listed. For example, you would list: furniture, $1500; office equipment, $300, etc.. You will not have to list the items separately, such as sofa, $100; chair, $5; typewriter, $25. I suggest that you do keep a list of the individual items, though. Although you will not have to go into a lot of detail for the court, you will likely want a more detailed inventory for yourself. You will want this for two reasons: to track the sale of estate property, and to protect yourself against claims of heirs and/or creditors.

You do not have to get real fancy with with the inventory; pencil and paper will do. If you are so inclined, there are home inventory record books available at office supply stores, or you can purchase software online. There are also companies that specialize in taking home inventories.

You will need a helper. One person sorts and counts while the other writes. Start inside the house, and work your way from the top of the house to the bottom. Go room to room with a consistent pattern so that you do not miss anything: always clockwise or counter-clockwise around the room. Write down what is on the walls as well, not just what is on the floor. For small goods, write down identifiable groups of items such as 200 hardcover books, 100 paperback books, 42 nick-knacks, etc.. On your list, put a star next to any item that you think may be valuable. If the nick-knacks are porcelain and the books are first editions, they are valuable items. When you are finished, follow the same procedure for the outbuildings: the garage, shed, workshop, or whatever. If there is a rented self-storage unit, vacation home, recreational vehicle or boat, they will need to be inventoried as well.

When you file the inventory at the courthouse, you will need to state a value for the personal property. For run-of-the-mill household items, a good resource for determining the value is the software program It’s Deductible that comes bundled with the income tax program Turbo Tax. It’s Deductible can also be purchased separately. The software lists the thrift shop value for most household items, and it is easy to use.

For the items that you have identified as being valuable, It’s Deductible will not work. There are several ways to determine the value of single items or collections. A good place to start is eBay ( http://www.ebay.com ). To use eBay to help set your values, you will need to be a registered user. Registering for eBay is free; just follow the instructions when you get to the website. Once registered, type in the item you are researching, and eBay will search for the item. When the search results come up, scroll down and look on the left side of the page to where it says Search Options, click on completed listings, then scroll down further and click on Show Items. The search results displayed will be for completed auctions, not for auctions in progress. The prices listed in green are items that actually sold; the prices in red are for items that did not sell. If you find your item listed, and the price is green, you have a good value. Compare the details of the item you found on eBay with the details of the item you have. Use the closest match as your value.

If you are unable to find your item listed on eBay, it is time to go to the library or bookstore. There you will find an assortment of price guides for every sort of antique or collectible. You will also find blue books for automobiles and equipment.

If you have lots of items and no time to research, then it is time to call in an expert. In your local phone book you will find jewelers, antique dealers, auctioneers, appraisers, and other professionals who will tell you what the property is worth. What they will offer you is an opinion of value, not an appraisal. An appraisal is based on actual sales data, not an opinion. I will cover appraisals below; for now, just be aware that there is a difference. For probate valuation purposes, the value placed must be the fair market value at the time of the decedents death. This is the value you should ask your expert to provide.

In my home state of Virginia, individual items or collections that are valued over $500 must have an appraisal. Personal property appraisers are not licensed like real estate appraisers, but the content of their reports is regulated. For a personal property appraisal to be valid and accepted for tax purposes, it must be performed by a qualified expert and follow the federal guidelines of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. Most real estate appraisers do not appraise personal property. You can find a personal property appraiser online by checking the websites of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America, the National Association of Auctioneers, or the American Society of Appraisers.

Estate Executors will find that the inventory and valuation of estate personal property is their most time-consuming task, but there are resources available to help.

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Construction Insurance – Importance and Coverage

Construction involves large number of manpower and huge investments of money. The workers at a construction site risk their lives working at great heights, with dangerous tools, toxic materials, heavy equipment, under tunnels, etc. Hence, construction is associated with high amount of risk for money and lives. A slight negligence or bad fortune on part of the worker or owner may prove too costly. It may lead to a huge financial loss. These unfortunate events require tools, which can bail the company out of the situation. Here arises the need of ‘Construction Insurance’, the risk management tool, customised specifically for the construction industry. Construction insurance is like any other insurance, which is used to protect the various parties associated with construction process.

A comprehensive construction insurance policy covers all the expenses that may occur due to property damage or personal injuries at the construction site. This insurance not only includes the organization owner, but also workers, employees, tenants, sub-contractors, sole proprietors and business partners.

Importance of construction insurance

As discussed above, construction involves usage of heavy equipment, materials, labour, etc. and is more prone to accidents. Since the business stands liable for any accident on the construction site, it is the business owner or the contractor that should pay for the medical treatment charges of the injured or compensation to the families, in case of death of the worker.

Material costs associated with construction are very high. Any damage to the structure or the materials leads to huge financial loss. Insured with the construction insurance, one can seek financial assistance from the insurance company.

The buyers of the flats or the constructed property will have all rights to sue the construction company, in case of faulty construction. In such cases the construction company has to pay for the remodelling or repairing the constructed site. Construction insurance protects the builders from those claims, by providing financial assistance.

Apart from the above circumstances, construction insurance provides wide coverage, providing security to the business in case of unpredicted events.

Four main areas it covers

Construction insurance is very significant in terms of its coverage. It is very comprehensive and is specifically designed to cover every aspect of construction process, to make the business process flexible. Construction insurance covers four major areas of business insurance. They are:

Public liability insurance

Public liability insurance is a general insurance to be possessed by any business which involves interaction with the customers or people in general. Public liability insurance as part of construction insurance helps the businesses in case any damage to third party property or individuals is caused by employees or the tools used in construction.

Employers liability insurance

As the construction industry involves lot of risks, any worker can get injured or die at any point of time, due to the faulty equipment or negligence of supervisors or co-workers. Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees at construction site. Moreover, the employees will have every right to sue the owner and claim for compensation. In case of such unexpected events, the employer or the owner can benefit from the construction liability insurance, as the insurance company pays the medical costs or the compensation associated with the claims.

Contractors all risks insurance

Contractors all risks insurance is customised for construction businesses. It provides assistance for contract works of new houses, theft of materials or tools, damage to the materials or tools due to unexpected events, sudden stoppage of on-going works of new houses, owned or hired plants, etc. This insurance acts as a perfect help for the most commonly incurred accidents in the construction process.

Personal accident insurance

This insurance is specifically designed for managers, sole proprietors or business partners. This is useful in the cases, where the person injured can’t blame any other person for the injury caused to him. This is helpful in providing assistance during the period for which the injured person cannot get income.

Construction insurance is very important for construction businesses as the damage or the financial loss occurred is very hard to be recovered. Businesses should realise that the cost of premiums for insurance is less when compared to the compensation costs. Therefore, it can be concluded that, construction insurance is very valuable in making the business sustain for long run.

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

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

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

1) Fuse Panel

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

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

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

2) Knob and Tube Wiring

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

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

3) Aluminum Branch Wiring

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

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

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

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

4) Less Than a 100 Amp Electrical Service

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

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

5) Polybutylene Plumbing

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

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

6) Roof with less than 3 Years of life

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

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

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Realty Vs Real Estate Vs Real Property

Realty and personal property terms have often been confused as to what they exactly mean. Here we will clear that right up for you. We will look at the terms personal property, realty, land, real estate, and lastly real property.

Let’s begin with personal property. Personal property also known as chattel is everything that is not real property. Example couches, TVs things of this nature. Emblements pronounced (M-blee-ments) are things like crops, apples, oranges, and berries. Emblements are also personal property. So when you go to sell your house, flip, or wholesale deal, you sell or transfer ownership by a bill of sale with personal property.

Realty.

Realty is the broad definition for land, real estate, and real property.

Land

Land is everything mother nature gave to us like whats below the ground, above the ground and the airspace. Also called subsurface (underground), surface (the dirt) and airspace. So when you buy land that’s what you get, keep in mind our government owns a lot of our air space.

Real Estate

Real estate is defined as land plus its man made improvements added to it. You know things like fences, houses, and driveways. So when you buy real estate this is what you can expect to be getting.

Real property

Real property is land, real estate, and what’s call the bundle of rights. The bundle of rights consist of five rights, the right to possess, control, enjoy, exclude, and lastly dispose. So basically you can possess, take control, enjoy, exclude others, and then dispose of your real property as you wish as long as you do not break state and federal laws.

Lastly there are two other types of property we should mention.

Fixture

Fixture is personal property which has been attached realty and by that now is considered real property. So you would ask yourself upon selling to determine value “did you attach it to make it permanent?” The exceptions to this rule are the garage door opener and door key, these are not considered fixtures.

Trade Fixtures

Trade fixtures are those fixtures installed by say a commercial tenant or can be the property of the commercial tenant.

I hope this clears up some misconceptions about personal property, realty, land and real estate and now fixtures and trade fixtures!

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Tips On How To Clean Your Dirty And Smellygage

Your luggage travels in different conditions. The rain, the muddy pathways and the dirty pavements can all make your luggage dirty and smelly. If you do not take good care of it, your precious travel bag can wear out faster.

Cleaning your dirty and smelly luggage should not be too daunting. Let me tell you some tried and tested cleaning tips:

1. Vacuum your luggage. Try to get rid of as much dirt and dust from your travel bag as you can. Also vacuum the casters and the interior of the bag. You might want to use a vacuum machine with a good filter to effect suck minute dirt and dust particles.

2. If you are using a canvas luggage, try cleaning it with a mild dish washing liquid. Mix two drops of the dish washing liquid in two cups of warm water. Soak a sponge or a clean towel in the mixture. Wring out the excess. Use this to wipe the interior and the exterior of the machine.

Make sure you remove dirt particles. Also wipe away dirt and crusty mud on the wheels of the luggage.

3. For your leather luggage, try to get rid of the mud using a leather polisher. Apply leather polisher on a clean rag. Wipe it all over the bag.

4. Get a soft bristled brush and use this to remove dirt particles in the zippers, wheels and the handles of the bag. You can try soaking the brush in the dish washing liquid solution first. This will loosen up the crusty mud or dirt.

5. Sprinkle baking soda on the interior and exterior of the luggage. Leave it on for an hour. Baking soda can effectively diffuse unwanted luggage odor. This will also help get rid of lingering stains and dirt.

6. After an hour, vacuum the travel bag again to get rid of the baking soda residues.

7. To deodorize the luggage bag once again, try spraying it with lemon juice solution. Just mix one cup of lemon juice with one cup of water. Place it in a spray bottle. Spray it all over the luggage. This should work in diffusing unwanted bag odor.

8. Let it dry completely. Place the bag in an area not directly exposed to the sun.

If you are traveling during rainy seasons, make sure you use a luggage cover for your bag. These can be purchased from travel bag stores. They can protect your bag from further damage.

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Monopoly Game Rules

One game has always been a favorite with all people associated to all age groups and that is Monopoly. The game has its fans across borders and all around the world. Still, a lot of people are unaware of all the rules of this game. It is imperative to know and understand Monopoly Game Rules in order to be a champion while playing this game. Let us have a closer look at the Monopoly Game Rules:

  1. Build Hotels: Many people think that they only need to have four houses on every property in group color before they can actually start buying hotels. Well, it is not correct. Apart from this condition, optimum number of houses should be available in the bank as well. In absence of enough homes, one can not buy hotels.
  2. Going to Jail: If as a player one goes in the jail then even though he scores doubles, his turn will come to an end. Such a player will not get an opportunity to roll again.
  3. Income Tax: As a player, if a person ends up on income tax block after passing GO, his money worth $ 200 is included in his total worth. In this case a player gets to decide whether he wants to pay 10% of his total worth of $ 200.
  4. Fine amount in case of Utilities: A player is not required to roll again to determine the amount of fine on utilities. The numbers which come from the dice in first roll are considered for the fine amount.
  5. Together try to win: Mergers are not considered as part of the official Monopoly Game Rules, however, there are many players who add it in their personal rule book. In this situation, two players can decide to play together as partners. In such a situation, the assets of both the players can not be combined. Instead of this, one of the two players has to quit the game and then the second one continues playing.
  6. Quitting the Monopoly Game: At any point of time, if a player wants to quit the game then his assets are returned to the bank. The player can not gift his assets to any other player. Yes of course, a player can decide to sell off his property to some other player even gifting is not possible.
  7. No immunity against rent: At no point in the game a player can offer immunity to another player against rent.

Players often forget these simple rules and end up losing the game. There are many people who have twisted the rules of this game as per their convenience though the fun of playing Monopoly is more when played with the original rules of the game. Monopoly Game Rules were designed keeping in mind all the possibilities in this game and here one should follow them to play the game in the best and accurate manner. If one plays the game with all the rules then the chances of disagreements on various things can be avoided and game can be enjoyed thoroughly.

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The Pros And Cons Of Funeral Insurance

Funeral insurance, also known as burial insurance is a type of insurance created to pay for the costs of memorial and internment services. Nowadays, many people especially those who are not getting any younger are getting funeral insurance to deal with the costs of burial and funeral services when they die.

Most of these people do not want to leave any type of burden, especially financial burden, to their loved ones. Some of the costs covered by insurance policies are cremation, burial, plots, music, flowers, taxes and even medical costs. Before purchasing funeral insurance, an interested person must consider things such as the location of the cemetery, arrangement and expenses of the funeral, cost of cremating and buying caskets or urns.

Aside from these considerations, he must also determine the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of insurance:

Cash to Shoulder the Funeral Arrangements. The insurance company will give the grieving loved ones lump sum cash that they can use for funeral arrangements. The amount of cash usually depends on the type of funeral insurance policy that the dead relative has purchased.

A Car to Make Funeral Arrangements. While the family members are on the verge of arranging matters of his funeral, the insurance company will provide a car to make sure that they still feel comfortable while dealing with his death and getting ready for his interment at the same time.

Bonus Monthly Payout. The family members who the insured person has left will be receiving monthly bonus cash from the insurance company. This amount of money is expected to help pay out for bills covering food and utility.

Chosen Funeral and Burial. A good thing about having a contract with an insurance company is that when he dies, he will have the memorial and interment services according to his will. He will have a funeral and burial that he thinks he describes.

Get A Tombstone. With the services that the company covers, the family members can choose a tombstone that will serve as its memory.

The disadvantages of purchasing funeral insurance are:

Insurance Policy May not Pay in Full. There are some companies offering funeral insurance that have waiting periods. These periods can reduce the benefits of the insured person. There can also be times when there can be no benefits at all. Some insurance policies can decrease in value as time passes by.

Insurance Policy May not be an investment. A person who chooses to have funeral insurance will have no control on how his money will be endowed. Another thing is that some companies offer very little interest rate. And lastly, some insurance policies are overpriced. This means that some of these policies cost more than the cost of funeral coverage. A person planning to get one must remember that by purchasing one means he is paying more premiumss than collecting insurance claims.

With the advantages and disadvantages of funeral insurance, a person can see that it will be highly recommended to apply for a funeral insurance policy that will fit his needs and requirements.

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Land Trusts in California

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

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

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

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

I. California General Trust Law:

A. Creation Of Trust:

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

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

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

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

B. Trust Of Real Property And Personal Property:

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

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

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

II. Mechanics Of A Land Trust:

A. Advantages And Benefits:

(1.) Privacy:

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

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

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

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

(2.) Avoidance Of Probate:

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

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

(B.)Disadvantages And Pitfalls:

(1.) Separtate Agreement For Each Property:

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

(a) Simpler Alternatives:

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

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

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Insurance In Tort Laws

INTRODUCTION

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

DEFINITION OF CONSUMER

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

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

Consumer means any person who-

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

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

In Black’s Law Dictionary it is to mean:

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

OBJECTVES OF THE ACT

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

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

INSURANCE

An operational definition of insurance is that it is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE

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

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

FRAUD BY INSURER

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

DELAY IN SETTLEMENT OF CLAIM

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

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

INTERPRETATION OF TERMS

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

CONDUCT OF THE INSURER

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

SUICIDE BY THE ASSURED

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

BREACH OF TERMS

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

NOMINEE’S RIGHTS

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

REPUDIATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF INSURANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Rejection of claim as false after full investigation

The national commission held as follows:

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

– Unilateral reduction in the insurance amount.

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

– Mere repudiation does not render the complaint not maintainable.

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

– Mere unilateral repudiation does not oust the jurisdiction.

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

– Mere unilateral repudiation no ground to oust jurisdiction.

The national commission repelled the objection and observed as under:

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

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

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

– Removal of insured goods on attachment no theft.

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

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

The national has held:

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

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

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

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

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

In LIC of India v M/s Kanchan Murlidhar Akkalwar

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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