The 10 Most Common Mistakes Insurance Agents Make

Problem #1

Prospects have more sales resistance training than agents usually have in sales presentation skill.

Prospect response to insurance agents is designed to get as much information as possible and be in control of the situation. Prospects often mislead insurance agents about their intentions, how much they’ll spend, who makes decisions, etc.

The prospect intent is designed to turn agents into unpaid consultants, lead them on until they have all of the information they need, and often use their quotes to compare with their current agent or a competitor.

When prospects have what they need, they stop returning the agent’s phone calls.

Does this make prospects bad people?

Of course not.

We all use this system for dealing with salespeople…it’s almost second nature.

Why do prospects do this?

It’s simple.

It works.

The stereotype of an agent is not a good image for most of us, and prospects are afraid of being sold something they don’t want. In order to protect themselves, prospects feel they need a way to deal with agents. It is an instinctive reaction to the negative stereotype of agents that causes prospects to put up a defensive wall.

So how do most agents deal with the prospects system of defense? Most play right into it. Many don’t use a systematic approach to selling. They allow the prospect to take total control of the sales process. The agent eagerly:

o gives their knowledge

o makes commitments without getting any in return

o wastes resources on pursuing deals that will never close

o gives quotes to non-prospects who never buy

o misinterpret the ubiquitous “I’ll think it over and get back to you” as a future sale

How do most sales organizations contribute to the problem? Frequently they focus on product knowledge and overlook teaching what circumstances or concepts products fit best with.

The solution: Train agents on a systematic approach to making presentations so they have “a track to run on.” The training should balance both the prospect and agent’s best interest.

Problem #2

Spending too much time with prospects that will never buy.

A manager recently evaluated two of his agents like this: “Gary spends too much time with non-buyers, and gets too involved in non-productive activities. One root cause of this behavior is that he doesn’t ask the tough questions. Amy is strong with prospects, but both she and Gary have lost deals because the competition asks for the business while they give quotes to the prospect.” Why is this true?

Agents don’t ask the hard questions up-front for fear of making their prospects angry, they are afraid they will lose something they don’t have. Most agents think their job is to close everybody.

Over the years sales training has emphasized, “Don’t take NO for an answer.” Insurance agents are taught to be persistent…handle stalls and objections…trial closes…always be closing…and yes, even be manipulative. No wonder prospects need sales resistance to shield themselves!

Prospects realize agents don’t want to hear “NO” and that when they do, they’ll “hang in there” and try to turn “NO” into “YES.” When the poor prospect really means “NO,” s/he has found the easiest way to get rid of a agent is to tell them, “I’ll think it over, and I’ll get back to you.” How many “think it over’s” really turn into business?

The solution: Agents need tools to separate tire-kickers from buyers. They need an approach that obtains support early in the sales cycle. They need to learn the fine art of tactfully qualifying prospects in, not qualifying them out. The top agents learn to ask the hard questions up-front, saving precious resources for real opportunities. “NO” is an acceptable response from a buyer. “Going for the NO” requires a tremendous paradigm shift for most agents, but it can take all the pressure off the agent and increase productivity. This approach allows prospects to feel in control, this then relaxes them, and lets them buy instead of feeling like they are being “sold.”

Problem #3

Agents talk too much.

A manager recently said, “My agents’ listening skills aren’t where they need to be; someone says something and they don’t find out the real reason or intent behind the question, which leaves the prospect feeling like my agents don’t understand them or their issues.

Of course, when we sent them to the College of Product Knowledge, filling them with technical knowledge and then sent them out to make their quotas, we should have expected this result.”

So what’s the problem telling our story? First, people buy for their reason, not the agents reasons, not even their company’s reasons. Second, most companies’ presentations sound the same to the prospect, and when they sound the same, the agent just becomes another agent to the prospect, and then to the prospect, low price becomes the determining factor in getting the business.

The solution: Asking questions is the answer. Teach insurance agents to stop regurgitating to the prospect and start asking questions. Prospects should do at least 70% of the talking on the sales call. The only way this will happen is for the sales rep to ask a lot of questions.

Questions gather information. Ask questions to find out what the prospect’s “pain” is. This is the same thing your family doctor does during an office visit. They ask – they don’t tell you anything until they have made the proper diagnosis.

Problem #4

Weak Agents focus on price.

Price is never the real issue! Agents focus on price because it’s often the first thing the prospect asks about. Yet study after study confirms that quality and services are almost always more important than price. Price is never the main reason for getting and keeping business. People buy our products to either solve a problem they have, or improve something about their current situation or protect against future occurrences.

The solution: Teach agents to be more effective in asking questions and getting to real issues. Once they learn to do this, price will not be the determining factor in making sales.

Problem #5

Product knowledge is over-emphasized and misused. As a result, selling often becomes nothing more than “pitching and presenting.”

Most sales training focuses on product knowledge. studies show that 80% of training dollars spent annually are spent on product knowledge training. Agents, once filled with this product knowledge, are eager to share this information and become a Professional, Unpaid Educator. The focus then becomes totally on product, and not on the prospects problem, which is where it belongs.

The solution: Provide training in the strategy and tactics our agents need to help prospects clearly define their problems and co-build solutions that fit their needs. Product knowledge is important, but how it’s used at each phase of the buying process is the key.

Problem #6

Agents fail to get prospects to reveal budgets up-front. Many insurance agents are uncomfortable talking about money. Discussing money is seen as intrusive, and unpleasant. Many agents avoid talking about money, until the prospect forces the issue. This is one of the five most common weaknesses that agents have.

The solution: Knowing whether there is money upfront will help the insurance agent distinguish between a prospects who is ready to solve a problem from one who is not committed. Comfortably talking about money is a key to management, where resources are evaluated based on bottom line impact. Teach your agents to find out two things about money:

o How much the problem is costing the prospect; in other words the amount at risk.

o How much they’d be willing to invest to solve the problem.

Without a candid discussion about money, the agent is left to make certain assumptions. And we all know what happens when we make assumptions!

Problem #7

Agents fail to get firm commitments from prospects.

Insurance agents are often very willing to jump at the opportunity to do a quote, presentation, etc. This approach is incredibly time-consuming and resource intensive.

How many quotes has your team/distribution sent out over the last twelve months that resulted in nothing? How much does it cost your team/distribution on an annual basis to do quotes that go nowhere?

The solution: Agents must learn what motivates people to buy. They must master the skills required to help prospects become comfortable sharing problems, and they must learn to determine the prospects’ level of commitment to solve these problems before they begin to offer their solutions.

Problem #8

Lack of sufficient prospecting.

A quote from a manager: “They don’t do enough prospecting, even ‘when I use a long stick.'” All professional agents will eventually be faced with a bout of call reluctance. You know the story – they have so much paperwork on their desk they can’t possibly find the time to prospect for new business OR they’re so busy calling on existing customers (who incidentally aren’t buying anything) there’s no way they could add any new appointments. Getting ready to get ready. The BT club (bout to) Sound familiar?

o Over 40% of all veteran sales professionals have experienced bouts of call reluctance severe enough to threaten their career in sales

o And 80% of all new agents who fail within their first year do so because of insufficient prospecting activity.

The Solution: Insurance agents need to develop a realistic activity plan. Monitor the plan weekly and implement effective accountability.

Problem #9

The insurance agent has a strong need for approval.

It’s an easy and common mistake. “I love people, so I’ll be an insurance agent.” You end up with an insurance agent that would rather make “friends” with their prospects than conduct business. While developing relationships are an important part of the selling process, selling is not a place for people to get their emotional needs met. In fact, it’s the opposite: a tough and demanding profession, full of rejection. People who internalize the rejection end up getting out of the profession. Truth is, they should never have gotten in the business. Sales interactions are fundamentally different than social interactions. Successful professionals understand and accept that the bottom line of professionally selling is: MAKING MONEY.

The Solution: Evaluate yourself to determine if you have this need for approval. Managers need to ask pre-hire screening questions that helps to hire stronger people and teach them a system that helps strike the appropriate balance between developing relationships and getting commitments.

Problem #10

Insurance agents don’t treat sales as a profession.

Professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, and CPAs’ all have one thing in common – they attend continuing education to maintain and increase their proficiency. Yet how many insurance agents are continually seeking new ways to increase their skills? Many have the attitude, “I’ve been selling for years, what more can I learn?”

The solution: Top performers in every profession are always looking for ways to sharpen their skills and gain the fine edge that leads to consistent success. Managers need to invest in top performers and help them grow their skills. Ego stunts your growth so managers have to be willing to set their ego aside and be willing to grow, modeling behavior that demonstrates it is more important to the manager to be effective than to be right. We can all learn from each other.

In Summary:

Hiring: Distributions, supervisors and managers must complete, step-by-step, a formal process for profiling, attracting, recruiting, interviewing and hiring top performers. Look to hire goal achievers not goal setters. Most managers hire goal setters and are surprised when agents never achieve their goals. The truth is the agent only had a wish list. Ask the agent when interviewing or coaching to describe goals they set and “how” they achieved the goal. If they didn’t achieve then it was it a goal or only a wish list?

Effective recruiting and hiring is the most important job of any manager. No amount of training, coaching or mentoring will make up for a poor hiring decision. Do it right the first time.

Managing: Implement a sales management process that emphasizes more effective recruiting, hiring, coaching, growing, and developing agents. Most of all quit accepting excuses for poor performance from yourself and your agent, raise your expectations and implement a rigorous accountability process. This starts with your team production-if you are not meeting standards. how can you expect to hold your agents accountable?. In management, you don’t get what you want – you only get what you expect and inspect. Remember, you manage things – you lead people.

Training: Tapes, books and one -day seminars are fine for intellectual learning or external motivation, but if you want to be a better golfer, pianist – or a better sales person, you must practice and develop new skills. Selling is a skill that can be taught, learned, and mastered over time.

Phone scripts and rebuttals are intended to assist in moving your management and sales career forward or allowing you to increase you current volume of business.

Remember these are only meant to be sales tools, they do not work, you have to work them.

The key is to do enough of the right things, enough of the time.

Give success time to happen-and do something today to make it happen!

The clock starts NOW!

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Homeowners Guide to Home Insurance Discounts, Reduced Rates and Savings

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

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

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

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

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

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

How savvy are you as a homeowner and insurance consumer?

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

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

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

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

Get started on discounts for savings ….

  • Shop around to compare insurance company providers and rates – what companies provide home insurance in your community?
  • Get guidance on the details – an independent insurance agent is not tied to one brand, so these agents can help you see the whole marketplace and get the apples-to-apples lens you need to compare products, coverage and rates.
  • Identify discounts – make sure you identify the common discounts most homeowners hit, along with other discounts that frequently miss.
  • Do the 'homework' – the work at home that demonstrates stewardship makes you eligible to select from the broadest insurance product range possible.
  • Optimize selection, and then maximize discounts to benefit from reduced raters and savings.
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A Brief Description Of Maui Island And Why You Need A Travel Agency Assistance

Would you like to travel to Maui? This is the second largest of the eight islands found in the Hawaii State. It possesses three big cities, including Lahaina, Kahului and Wailuku. The region lures many visitors because of its physical landmarks such as the highest volcanic mountain called Haleakala. Even the West Maui Mountains form very beautiful scenery. The western part of the island including Kaanapali, Lahaina and Kapalua has the most luxurious and elegant resorts.

This is a beautiful island and if you want to plan a getaway you cannot be wrong if you choose it. Although you can reach the region quickly by plane, cruising in a ship is more enjoyable. Besides, finding cheap Maui cruises is not a major problem. Since this landmass is a popular destination for tourists, you can expect to compete for cheaper cruise rates with very many people from your region.

How can you manage to overcome this competition for discounted cruise rates? If at all possible, you should look for a reliable travel agency that either has business branches in Hawaii or is based in this state. This is specifically true if you will be a first time visitor who plans to have a stress free trip to the island. A travel agent is therefore very useful when people are planning Maui vacations.

In the following few paragraphs you will find out more about the importance of using a travel agent and related information.

Reasons why you should use a Maui travel Agency

1. It provides guidance and direction through out the trip and is able to help people save money.

2. A travel operator boosts safety of new travelers throughout a whole week’s trip or even a longer one.

3. It keeps travelers from getting into trouble with the authorities in the Island

4. It recommends the best accommodation facilities as well as proper means of transportation in this wonderful island.

How you can locate a Maui Travel Agency

It is extremely easy to locate a good tour company if you know how to use the internet wisely. Look for Maui travel agents’ reviews, analyze them carefully and choose a few good companies. Go to the related forums and blogs and read prior visitors’ comments and articles. In short, you need to take your time to research carefully before making a decision about whom to hire among many tour operators that serve Maui. The best thing to do is to look for an agent that can give you a single package for the entire journey. The package should include the hotel accommodation, foods and drinks, transportation and other leisurely costs.

What your Maui tour guide should tell you in advance

An imperative detail that you want your guide to tell you about in advance is the requirements for entry in Maui, Hawaii. If you come from outside the U.S, you need to know about the passport, visas and other mandatory entry information before the travel day comes. Moreover, the agent should mention something about the climate, especially if you would be traveling with your family.

You want to avoid traveling with kids when hurricanes are common or when the weather is too wet. This is particularly important if you plan to participate in outdoor activities such as water sports and walking to the tourist landmarks. The guide should make you understand the available routes and the things you can see while cruising in a ship.

If you want cheaper rates, the planner of Maui vacations should be able to provide you an inexpensive bill without compromising the quality of your visit. You can also ask the travel guide about trip insurance, car rental services, traffic around the region and many other important issues.

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Things You Should Never Put in Your Will

A will will a vital estate planning document, and allows you to distribute your assets and property according to your wishes. At a minimum everyone should have a will, even if you believe you do not have many assets. It is a common misconception that only rich people need estate plans. A will have a number of limitations you may not be aware of. However, there are several items that should NOT be included in a will:

Property held in a living trust or joint tenancy – property deeded to a living trust can not be refused to someone else, and a will can not change the right of survivorship in joint tenancy, which passes to the joint tenant by law. Do not let the legalese scare you. Let an attorney help you ensure that any property you leave is handled in the way you want.

Accounts with designated beneficies – financial accounts and life insurance proceeds go to beneficiaries who are designated by you via a designated beneficiary form, and can not be given to someone else through a will.

Contingency gifts – leaving assets that are contingent on the beneficiary performing a duty or act (like marrying or attending college) is not always legal. Generally speaking, you can not "manage from the grave" by making an inheritance contingent on someone getting married, changing their religion, etc.
Provisions for those with special needs – this should be done via a special needs trust.

Provisions for pets – pets do not have the legal ability to own property, so consider acquiring a pet trust to care for your pet (s). Did you know that you can leave money for the caretaker of your pet and of course choose who or what organization you would like to care for your pet.

Funeral instructions – since a will will not be read until after the funeral, leave instructions for your funeral arrangements in a letter of instruction or discuss your wishes with loved ones. It is also advisable to get funeral insurance. Save your loved ones from the hassle of chasing money immediately in the aftermath of your death.

Many of the items above can be addressed in a trust designed by your attorney. It also shows that "wills in a box" software many times will not ensure your desires are abided by. If you'd like to learn more about establishing your personal estate plan, call an attorney today.

To Your Health, Wealth & Happiness,

Walter H. Bentley III
Http://www.wbentleylaw.com

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Last Will And Testament Provision For Burial

A will or testament provides information about the transfer of property, ornaments or land, from the testator to his beneficiaries, after his death. Everyone, regardless of age, needs a will. Without a will people wouldn’t know to whom their assets would go. A will is a general term and is used as the instrument in a trust, while testament applies only to dispositions of personal property.

Besides mentioning, as to who would own the property, after the death of the testator, the last will and testament also provides details about, carrying out the burial of the testator. He appoints an executor, as his personal representative who takes over the responsibility of paying his left over debts, obligations as well as pays for his funeral expenses. However, the executor is not entitled to get any surety bond connected to the last testament.

A testator may mention in his last will, the name of a particular organization that would conduct the rites of his burial or transference. He may also put a clause, which specifies that, his body be sent without autopsy or embalming, to a funeral home designated by the organization. A copy of the last will is given to the funeral home by the organization, as it helps in preparing and facilitating the transportation of the body.

The last will and testament carries details about the testator’s wishes, including whether or not his body be enshrined or entombed at a chosen place after death. Since the rites of burial and transference can be very elaborate, detailed, thorough, and lengthy, the organization may incur an extensive cost to carry out the rites. In such a case, the testator can make pre-arrangements with the organization, by donating money that would assist them in carrying out his last wishes. The appointed executor is responsible to pay for the burial expenses in case the testator has not made such arrangements. The last will and testament provision for burial gives details of performing the final rites as per the wishes of the testator, soon after his death.

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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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Could the Great Chicago Fire Been Prevented?

  • Nearly 300 deaths
  • More than 2,000 acres
  • 17,500 buildings
  • 73 miles of road
  • 90,000 left homeless
  • $ 222,000 in damage
  • The destruction of between two and three million books from private library collections

What do these have numbers have in common? If you answered the Great Chicago Fire of October 1893, you would be correct. And while as devastatingly as fire is in Chicago history, it is not the only horrific fire-related Chicago history. In fact, just a few years later (December 1903) there were more than 600 deaths when the Iroquois Theater burned and later listed as the deadliest single-building fire in American history.

What is more interesting, is that while the exact cause of the Chicago fire has ever been determined, the Iroquois Theater fire could have been prevented had the proper measures been taken. History shows that a Chicago fire department captain, toured the facility and noted that "there were no extinguishers, sprinklers, alarms, telephones, or water connections; the only firefighting equipment available were six canisters of a dry chemical called" Kilfyre ", which was Normally used to douse residential chimney fires. "

He reported the problems to his superiors, but was told that nothing could be done, as the building had its own fire warden. In addition to the lack of firefighting equipment, the editor of the Fireproof Magazine , toured the facility and reported that there was an "absence of an seize, or stage draft shaft; the exposed reinforcement of the (proscenium) arch; the presence of wood Trim on everything and the obligation provision of exits. "

After each of these events, Chicago rebuilt. But what if there had been something in place to send out an early alarm? How many lives would have been saved had the Iroquois Theater taken the time to make the necessary changes? Yes, it was a century ago, and modern assumptions as we know today were not available, but that does not excuse the loss of life and property destruction.

So, with a proactive focus in mind, what are you doing to protect your home and family from fire, theft, burglary or mayhem of any sort? Whatever you choose to have utilize the services of one of the local Chicago home security systems or opt for a nationally recognized company, taking care of what matters to you is important. After all, as the early residents of Chicago learned, it's not much fun to clean up after a fire! Do not make the mistake of thinking you could be excuse form personal injury, property damage or a break in. Do your part to keep your family safe.

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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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Travelling As a Hobby

A hobby, whatever it may be is definitely a fun activity and a stress buster. There are so many activities people do in their free time and to relax their stressed mind. The common and popular hobbies are Stamp and coin collection, music, painting, photography, reading and cooking. Among long, long list of various hobby activities, there is one interesting, informative and adventurous hobby which is also one of the most popular and loved pastimes. That is travelling.

For some it is a waste of time and money. They argue to use an alternative and read a book or watch a film related to places to be travelled. For others, there is no doubt that a person gets more life experience by walking a mile than reading an entire book. It’s a feeling of freedom, Freedom from routine and a great experience each time. You can make new friends, get rid of day to day frustrations, and give yourself some time to experience something new.

People who like and enjoy travelling have different options to try every time; a crowded market, historical momentum, a lonesome beach, and high hills and many more. The world is so big and there are so many places to visit. Each has a different beauty, various creatures, culture, speciality, language, history, and weather. The hobby of travelling is a hobby of enduring the beauty of God’s creativity and skill fullness.

If you are travelling to an historic place then chose to get prior information and an authorized guide. If you are going to any adventurous place then prefer to go in a group or with trained a person with emergency box ready with you. If travelling to a new country then make sure of having details and include a list of hotels, food, culture, language, laws, travel options, emergency numbers, currency of that region and other many more minute details. If as a traveller you like to have a nice and a planned trip without any hurdles then you are better off planning your trip.

You can take the details about the place to be visited. A wisely chosen spot, or a package will help you reduce your expense, as travelling is an expensive hobby. The planned trip is very helpful for the lone woman travellers. If you are from those who love adventures then the sky is your limit, although, you have to be smart, and informative enough to handle the experience waiting next step. You can enjoy hill walking, hiking, canoeing, caving, water sports, snow sports, and many more adventures activities.

Travelling gives you a great break from your routine and an opportunity to learn a new culture, old history and make lifelong friends. The people you come across and interact with, will give you a new heritage. They may open up your mind from a particular bend of thinking. Travelling is a perfect educational hobby as it helps you learn a lot of new things in life.

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Books Set in Australia – Five Novels to Read Before You Travel

A trip to Australia is one that offers endless variety – you could spend your time partying in Sydney, you could make an adventurous journey to the Outback, or you could wallow in the many wineries on offer in several Australian states. Australia is a big country and unless you have months to spend there, you are going to have to make some decisions on how best to spend you time. To help you do that, here are some books set in Australia – five novels depicting different aspects of Australian life and history.

'The Secret River' by Kate Grenville

A story of Australia's beginnings, William Thornbill and his wife Sal are sent from London to the fledgling colony of New South Wales in the early 1800's. After some time in Sydney (very different from the Sydney of today!) They decide to try their luck on some land Will has set his eye on along the Hawkesbury River. The challenges they face from their environment, the local Aborigines and fellow settlers reminds us of how harsh the country was for those who decided to make it their home. There are some magnificent descriptions of the landscape as seen by an outsider, and the books gives a 'warts and all' look at the impact of settlement on Australia's indigenous peoples.

'A Town Like Alice' by Neville Shute

While the first part of this novel is set in the Malayan jungle during WWII, what follows is a story that brings you to rugged, country Australia. If you want to know what life was like in a small outback town (more of a hamlet really) in the 1940's and 50's then this novel gives you a good idea. You are subject to the harshness of the landscape and the incredible distinctions involved, as Englishwoman Jean Paget travels to the heart of Australia to find a man she met whilst captured by the Japanese in Malaya. The language and attitudes, particularly in relation to Australia's Aborigines, are true to their time and should be taken as such. But it gives a good indication of the realities of life in rural Australia, something which is still a strong cultural impact on Australians today.

'Breath' by Tim Winton

From the desert to the sea now in this novel by one of Australia's most respected writers. This novel is set in Australia's south-west corner, at a time when the area was more of a home for the logging industry than for the tourists and vineyards of today. Set mainly in the 70's, this is a coming-of-age story about teenager Bruce as he seeks to overcome the boredom of country life with some high risk activities – like surfing off what can be a dangerous and deadly coastline, and developing a Dark friendship with an older woman. As Bruce begins to grow up, both emotionally and sexually, we are grateful to some of the most poetic and exhilarating descriptions you will ever find of the 'religion' that is surfing. And you too, will feel as if you have explored the rugged and beautiful coastline of this part of the country.

'Bad Debts' by Peter Temple

Peter Temple is one of Australia's leading crime writers, and this novel is our introduction to his hero Jack Irish. – an inner-city Melbourne solicitor with a love of Australian Rules Football, gambling, and part time cabinet-making. This is Melbourne in winter, complete with its rain, pubs and shady underworld. Irish has barely been sober for a number of years after one of his dodgy clients murdered his wife, and now Danny, another former client, needs his help. But when Danny is killed, Irish discovers there are plenty of the city's political elite who would like the past to remain undisturbed, and he is determined to get to the truth. Temple's novels may not give you 'sun and sand', but you will be treated to as much genuine Australian vocabulary and city sub-culture as you can handle.

'Summerland' by Malcolm Knox

And finally to Sydney, and a novel that explores the life of the city's idle rich. Four young Sydneysiders have been friends since they were teenagers, and living around the city's northern beaches they have the world at their feet. They form two couples and spend every Christmas at Palm Beach, a popular holiday location for the affluent. But despite all this, their friendship is based on lies, as Richard finds out when he learns of the long-running affair between his wife and his best friend. If you'd like an insight into a live of the privileged few in Sydney, then this novel will take you there.

These novels are just a taste of many books set in Australia, but they are well worth reading in the lead-up to your travels or on the plane. Immersing yourself in a novel about the place you are going to will not only give you an insight into the place itself, but it will whet your appetite for your travels ahead, making it far more enjoyable once you get there.

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