Archive for July, 2013

Insurers pay one claim but not the other

Posted by 26 July, 2013 (0) Comment

This article is about how insurance companies often make odd decisions. Here’s an example of how one insurance company refused to pay a claim that another department had already agreed to pay, the delays it causes, and what you can do about it.

 

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We’re paying. No were not!

 

Terry calls me and lets me know there’s been a flood from an appliance installed at their property. It’s obvious that this is covered by the insurance because this is one of the main risks that we were asked to reduce.  It was a contractor that caused the problem and eventually they will be paying for it, yet when there’s water all over your property floor and the contractor has failed to answer their phone, things can get stressful. I let Terry know that we would ensure that someone visited to assess the damage, but the main thing was to stop the leak and find out what caused it.

How can they possibly refuse?

 

Once the claim was made the insurance company confirmed that it would repair the internal damage yet none of the damage to the walls. Yes the wall, this was some leak! This was some leak and it is not unusual for this to happen when a property is unattended.  We helped the client make contact with the insurance company of the walls, and things seemed to be progressing smoothly, with all the various parties agreeing the damage was covered and the amount to be paid to the insured to replace all of the damaged property, repair the flooring, the walls, et al.

 

It then transpired that the same insurance company covered both the internal and the structure. However one department had agreed that it was fair to pay for alternative accommodation whilst the repairs were undertaken and the other department said it would not be necessary.  This caused a delay, there was no need for it, because you can’t renege on a promise, and as insurance contracts are promises, we weren’t going to let them get away with it.

What can you do about?

 

This often occurs and the two insurance departments appointed 5 separate “independent” advisors to manage the damage. We oversaw all the relevant parties and it was a shame that one of them was seeking to “draw favouritism” fromthe insurance company by trying to reduce the claim.  Terry was pleased with the final settlement, but it was only achievable because one of the adjusters appointed by the insurer was reasonable and went the extra mile once we had put together a fully reasoned argument as to why  the settlement should be full and include the cost of alternative accommodation.

As I write this, Terry is preparing for her stay in a hotel and all the building work is due to be completed within a fortnight. It’s a shame that a hotel is even necessary and the lesson is, make sure you use contractors and suppliers who are there to help you when you most need it. A good way to check this is to ring the claims line of any insurance provider that you are due to choose. I have said this before – at least it will give you the opportunity to assess how quickly they will respond to your claim. It may help you measure whether they have put all of their resources into sales and leave you hanging when you most need them.

 

Wrap Up: There are always difficulties when different policies cover parts of the same property. Who covers the floor if it is someone else’s ceiling? The measure of any service is how well they perform when you need them. If you can, try and use as few advisors as possible when protecting your assets, income or reputation.  This will reduce the number of gaps and the time it takes to deal with any queries when accidents happen.

 

Top Tip: If you are having any form of work done at your business or home check the insurance details of the proposed contractors. The fact they have insurance is a good start, yet not all “cover notes” are the same and the policy details behind them are even more complicated.

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Will Intellectual Property lead the UK out of recession?

Posted by 12 July, 2013 (0) Comment

This article is about the true value of intellectual property, the risks and advantages when leveraging it, and the solutions available.

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Intellectual property is Marvellous

 

Every week I meet someone who has had a great idea.  Not all of them will make as much money as Coca Cola, yet some of them are simply amazing. Naturally, these conversations are private and confidential, and I am often asked to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), before I am party to the secret. I don’t mind doing this because it helps build trust with entrepreneurs and inventors.

I think it is vital to protect the intellectual property in any country, UK Plc. seem to have more nurtured good ideas than most. The gentleman who designs Apple products is British, although he is an employee of Apple, so he is handsomely rewarded for giving them the rights and it makes sense to leverage an idea by partnering with someone who has the means to make the most of it.

The UK authorities are aware of just how much tax revenue they make when ideas created in the UK are well protected in the UK, so they have invested in grants making it worthwhile to protect intellectual property, because they make money when we make money.

Intellectual property risks examples

 

One inventor has designed a new water bottle for athletes. Another has invented one with a filter that means that it can be filled from a puddle, yet still be drinkable. When they initially approached me they had similar concerns, someone might copy it and they wanted to enforce their patent, design and trademark rights. Perhaps another manufacturer would try to flood the market with cheap copies that would damage the brand if people were injured whilst using an inferior bottle.

Social Media searches helped another inventor determine people who were jealous of the invention and were using very similar names to promote their product. In each case they can enforce their rights because they arrange protection to close down the miscreants or, at least, stop the fake or suspiciously named goods reaching consumers.

Sometimes this is achievable by a warning shot across the bows, commonly known as a cease and desist letter; this doesn’t always work. Authorities will act upon injunctions and stop goods leaving a factory, impound them at a distributors warehouse or prevent them being loaded onto a ship if the Intellectual Property owner has the means to enforce their rights. Sometimes this is avoided by the miscreants and the legal costs of enforcement mount up.

Some inventors have told me that they believe people will think twice when they have signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and that is certainly true for the vast majority of people. Large companies and corporations have taken advantage of the little guys and will stop at nothing to make a buck. Just a little research unearths companies who brought their manufacturing process back to the UK from abroad to find that aggressive companies in England started copying their top four selling items and promoting them on the internet.

Whoever let the copycat have the designs probably signed an NDA. It will take time to find out who the culprit was or if the data was stolen by hacking, employees or “external forces” have been known to do this. Without legal costs protection in place, even though they had protected their unique features and registered their designs, it costs a considerable amount of money, time and effort, to stop this happening.

The same applied to an Irish game designer, doing business in the UK, who was courted by a US publisher with a hawkish side. It cost $380,000 to get the game they “copied” removed from the shelves and they eventually gained a licence agreement for a share of the sales of his original ideas.

Intellectual property advantages

 

It is understandable that some companies do not want to register a patent because they know that there are really aggressive companies, especially in the US, who have a habit of copying ideas as soon as they are registered.  I don’t mean registered as a patent, I mean patent applied for. How they find out about such things is fraudulent, of course, and I share tweets noting those that get caught or the sectors that are at the biggest risk.  Savvy intellectual property advisors often recommend that registering be left until the last minute, yet this also carries the risk that someone else may have come up with the idea on a completely opposite of the world, and register it first, obtaining Worldwide rights, if they have the ability to do so.

When discussing these issues I let people know that there are ways of protecting such inventions without them being fully registered.  Get a registration in first, and inventors or designers can enforce their rights before they are registered. This makes patent attorneys and intellectual property lawyers very happy because it gives them a significant tool in their armoury and also enables them to generate fees when the protection process takes too long.

Large companies do not wait for small companies to enter the market before they attack them. A client is in the UK and bought a US Company and made it their branded subsidiary. The players who had the largest share of that particular US market instantly issued “malicious” proceedings against the UK Company before they had even started promoting their products.

 

Wrap Up: Intellectual Property is a real bargaining chip, if it is adequately protected.  Aggressors often try to tie new entrants up in legal process – which is a huge cost – especially in the US, to prevent them from spending their money on marketing and eroding the established leaders market share.

Top Tip: Having a non-disclosure agreement is great, yet you will need to enforce it if someone breaches confidentiality or trade secrets. This is simple yet not easy. Registering patents, marks, brands, domain names, or other unique features of a product or service, and the way it is marketed, can all form part of Intellectual Property protection.

 

 

 

Categories : Accountants Insurance,After The Event,All Risks Insurance,Building Contractor,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Contractors Insurance,Customer Service,Design Insurance,Domian name protection,General Requirements,Health & Safety,Intellectual Property Insurance,Legal expenses insurance,Liability Insurance,Litigation expenses insurance,Patent Insurance,Personal Insurance,Solicitors indemnity,Solicitors insurance,Trade,Trade Secret Protection,Trademark Insurance,Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,