Anthony's Library and Resources

Anthony's Library and Resources

A blog about Health, Business, Relationship and Life Tips.

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Sunday, 8 April 2018

Working from Home: The Pros and Cons

April 08, 2018 0
If you run a business from home, it is important to recognize that it is going to mean living a completely different lifestyle from the majority of people you know. Not having to commute in the morning, not spending all-day sitting in an office and being able to generally create your own working hours puts you on an entirely different pedestal from most people. For the most part, this is a good thing. 

Being able to set your working hours, to dictate the way you work and when you work and getting to spend time doing something you love can all contribute to a much happier and healthier lifestyle on the whole. In fact, it is a starting point for improving overall health. At the same time though, this type of lifestyle also brings with it, its own challenges. And because very few people live the same lifestyle as you do, that means you are going to be somewhat 'on your own' when it comes to finding advice on how to manage this work-life balance.

The long and short of it is that being self-employed and working from home gives you the freedom to begin your own 'lifestyle design'. This is pretty much the way things are moving and is likely the future of working. Technology is making it possible for us to work remotely in more and more industries and more and more roles. The benefits of this kind of work drastically outweigh the disadvantages – for both the employee and employer – and so the traditional office may soon become a rarity rather than the norm. That means the emphasis is on us to look after our own health and work-life balance.

The Possible Health Benefits
As mentioned, when done right, working from home has the potential to lead to incredible health benefits.  Most of the population is overweight, overtired and overstressed. If you can still remember working in an office, then no doubt you will recall what it felt like to have a full day in office, to travel home for an hour on the train/bus or in the car and then to have to cook dinner when you got back. What did you most often end up doing? You threw something in the microwave and you collapsed in front of the television. And then when your friends called to invite you out, you ignored that and carried on 'vegging out'.

Many of us talk about 'time management' and we say that the reason we don't stick to a training regime/weight loss programme is that we don't have the time. This is in fact all wrong. Most of us have plenty of time but what we lack is the energy. Without energy, we do not have will-power. Without willpower, things don't get done and we start to drown in a list of things we need to be doing and become incredibly stressed. Our bodies suffer, our relationships suffer and we don't live life to the fullest.

Working from home can change all that. Working from home means that you can choose to work out in the morning or in the afternoon – you just have to choose the time that you have the most energy. At the same time, it means you can put food on the gas cooker while you're working and watch it simmer. Working from home means you can sit outside and feel the sun on your face, instead of being cooped up in an office (which is known to contribute to stress and depression). 

Working from home means that you don't have to commute down busy streets with hundreds of people walking at you during rush hour – this wreaks havoc with your heart rate. In short, when you work from home, you get to choose your priorities and you reduce the stress of working several times over. Now you can put yourself first and that's an incredibly important and valuable thing to be able to do. The potential health benefits are transforming and life-changing.

The Health Risks
Working from home also has some health risks, so make no mistake about it. Think that being shouted at by your boss is stressful? How about being shouted at by 10 angry clients who are dissatisfied with your product or service?

And here's the difference between working for someone versus working for yourself: when you work for someone else and you have an unproductive day, you still get paid. When you work for yourself and you have an unproductive day?  You get nothing. Have a bad month? You still get nothing. Working for yourself is highly volatile and unpredictable and that's why some people refer to bipolar depression as 'the entrepreneur's disease'. 

Here's another difference: when you work for yourself, none of your friends or relatives will respect the fact that you have to work during the week.  Never mind that you promised your clients their work would be finished at 4.00 p.m. Never mind that you'll now have to work until 5.00 a.m. through the night. And on the flip side of this, your clients won't respect that your home time is your home time. They'll think nothing of e-mailing you at 5.00 a.m. on a Sunday to tell you the work you handed in three days ago was sub-standard.

And you'll have the same problem: you'll always be tempted to finish a little early on a Friday, or to work a little late on a Wednesday. Goodbye body clock! Goodbye healthy sleep! Goodbye good quality work. Then there's the fact that working from home means working on your own, with no one around, in the same room you're likely to spend your evening in. You never get to leave this space and you never get any outside interaction or input. Working from home gives you freedom and that freedom can give you the option to become incredibly healthy, happy and effective. At the same time though, freedom also comes with responsibility. Fail to manage that time well and everything can all go wrong.



If you found this article interesting, educative, informative, inspiring or helpful in any way, please feel free to share it with your family and friends so they too can enjoy the same experience. You can also subscribe to this blog to receive future posts by email, by simply entering your email address on the Newsletter Subscription Form located at the bottom of this blog.
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Saturday, 7 April 2018

Resume (Curriculum Vitae) Writing Secrets

April 07, 2018 0
Everyone in the business world knows that having a good and strong Resume (also known as Curriculum Vitae or simply CV) can mean the difference between getting a job and not getting a job.  You will need to have a resume that is crafted professionally and that will reflect you, your job abilities, and your experience.

Having a good looking resume is so important when you are searching for a job that it should be your number one priority.  There are all sorts of ways you can go about crafting a resume that works, but there is no magic formula for a resume that will work all the time. 

The choice is really up to you how you put together your resume, but there are certain nuances that you will need to include in your resume that every employer looks for. It is not difficult to put together a resume that works, but it is important that you do not overlook what makes your resume most effective.  This one or two page document speaks about you, your abilities, your experience, your education, and your accomplishments. It is the first thing that a potential employer will see before they meet you, so you want it to really be compelling and make them want to pick up the phone and call you for an interview!

There are many schools of thought regarding how a resume should look like, what information it should contain, and how to put it together.  However, most business people agree that when they look at a resume of a potential employee, they want the resume to be concise, to the point, and easy to read.

Whichever school of thought you, as a job seeker, subscribe to, you will still want your resume to be what a potential employer wants to see.  That is why you will want as much information about resumes as possible so you can have something that you can be proud of, to send out as an introduction to you and what you can do for a company. The resume is a selling tool that outlines your skills and experiences so an employer can see, at a glance, how you can contribute to the employer's workplace. Your resume has to sell you in short order.

While you may have all the requirements for a particular position, your resume is a failure if the employer does not instantly come to the conclusion that you "have what it takes." The first hurdle your resume has to pass - whether it ends up in the "consider file" or the "reject file" - may take less than thirty seconds.

The most effective resumes are clearly focused on a specific job title and address the employer's stated requirements for the position. The more you know about the duties and skills required for the job - and organize your resume around these points - the more effective the resume will be.

You will need information to write a good resume. Not just information about jobs you have held in the past but also information to select the most relevant accomplishments, skills and experience for THIS position. The more you know about the employer and the position, the more you can tailor your resume to fit the job.

Some people think of a resume as their "life on a page," but how could anyone put everything important about themselves on a single piece of paper (or two)? Actually, resumes are much more specific, including only relevant information about you for specific employers.

Like a life, however, a resume is always growing and changing. As your career goals shift or the job market changes - as you grow personally and professionally - chances are you will need to re-write your resume or at least create new versions. Writing a resume is a lifelong process.

How do you know what in your life - past, present, and future - is most relevant to prospective employers? How do you select which information to include? The quick answer to both these questions is "it depends." It depends on your individual career goals as well as on the professional goals of the companies hiring in your area or field of interest.

In the end, only you, through research, planning, questioning and self-reflection, can determine the shape and content of your resume, but the strategies here along with those on the job search can help you ask the right questions and begin exploring your options.

Depending on whom you ask, a resume may be viewed as the single most important vehicle to securing your next job, or it may be viewed as an unnecessary nuisance. In both cases, this is incorrect. A resume is a professional introduction meant to encourage a one-on-one interview situation - the opportunity for communication that can lead to a job offer. It is a rare candidate who is hired by his or her resume alone. It is just as rare to be offered an interview without one.

A resume is often the first line of contact. It establishes a first impression of a potential job candidate's skills, background and hiring value. If written well, this impression can be a positive one, offering the reader a sense of the candidate's "fit" for the position and company being targeted. If written really well, it may convince the reader that the job candidate is ideally suited for the job. When coupled with an effective cover letter, the resume can be a very strong marketing tool.

Preparing a resume may be seen as a nuisance, but having a well-constructed, well-designed resume is an important part of your job search. Consider that for each available job opening there may be as many as 100 to 1000 resumes submitted.

If your resume fails to adequately and accurately convey your hiring value (for the specific position), fails to establish your hiring value over competing candidates, or is difficult to follow, your ability to compete against those 100 to 1000 professionals, vying for the same position you are, will be greatly diminished.

If your resume secures an interview, it has done its job. If it sets you ahead of the competition in the mind of your interviewer, then it has given you a distinct advantage, and has gone beyond its job. A great resume does what all good marketing pieces do: it sells the "consumer" (the potential employer or hiring manager) on the "product" (you).

Like it or not, the job of looking for employment is a job in sales and marketing. The product you are "selling" is you, and the "customer," who has unique needs and interests, needs to be sold on the fact that you have what it takes to get the job done and to meet the needs of the position.

He or she is going to want to know how you are going to solve his or her problems, and he or she is going to give your resume about 15 seconds, or less, to sell this. Fifteen seconds is the average time a hiring manager will allot to a new resume - before giving it a potential "yes" or "no" response.

The resume will not get you the job (well, it has happened, but it is extremely rare), but it can certainly secure your chances of being seen and interviewed, just as it can cause you to be passed over in favour of a candidate who offers a better presentation.

As with any type of marketing campaign, use your resume as one tool in your search. Continue to network, improve your interviewing skills, and use every avenue available to you to better your chances and opportunities. And, after you have secured that next position, do this all over again. Always be prepared for the next opportunity. Keep your resume up-to-date and stay career fit.

So, essentially, a resume is you in short form on paper.  That is why having a good looking, easy to read resume is so important. 

For in-depth coverage of the subject matter, including cover letters, references and interviews, consider getting yourself a copy of Resume Writing Secrets.


If you found this article interesting, educative, informative, inspiring or helpful in any way, please feel free to share it with your family and friends so they too can enjoy the same experience. You can also subscribe to this blog to receive future posts by email, by simply entering your email address on the Newsletter Subscription Form located at the bottom of this blog.
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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks

December 19, 2017 0

Anxiety is a mental disorder in which a person fears almost anything and they think every result will turn out for the worst.  This fear is terrifying since it is so strong that the individual always fears that someone is after them.  If you have any kind of disorder that is associated with anxiety, your mind will be focused on being terrified for no reason.  You will always believe that there is no solution for your unfounded fear and that there is no way out.  You are feeling paralyzed as if you cannot do anything.  You are frozen with fear.  This disorder can strike at any time. 

There are several people who suffer from anxiety attacks.  If you are not suffering from them, you might know someone who is.   If it is you, you should know how to help yourself.  If it's another person, you should know how to help them too.  The feeling of anxiety originates from your brain.  According to studies that deal with this, there are at least two areas of the human brain that activate the sense of fear and anxiety in our thoughts.  It causes your brain to have a defense mechanism and then you react

There are drugs that can induce an anxiety attack from side effects or withdrawals. These include alcohol, caffeine containing drinks, cold medication, decongestants, nicotine, weight loss supplements and numerous other medications that people take for various health conditions and illnesses.  Not eating right may also be a contributor to anxiety.  There are some situations, where you may have to take a test or face a lot of people.  If you are not ready, you can get nervous, anxious or jittery.


Who Suffers From Anxiety?
Anxiety is a respecter of no person. It can attack anyone.  It could be your family member, your good friend, co-worker or anyone you may know.  Frequently, it could be those that you know and you would have never thought that they would suffer from this type of health condition.  Unfortunately, anxiety disorders affect and have a tendency to interfere with people who try to live a normal life.  When you have excessive anxiety attacks, it could be related to a psychiatric condition. When these disorders become serious and last a longer time, they are considered abnormal.  Along with the symptoms of an anxiety attack, the brain relays messages to other parts of the body. Certain parts of the body, like the lungs and heart, work overtime as the anxiety attack is going on.  The brain ends up releasing a whole lot of adrenaline.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, deals with people who are frequent worriers and are always anxious.  The thing about this is the fact that there really isn't a cause for this, nor is anyone or anything responsible to provoke it.  They look for the worst and are always extremely concerned about work, family health and money.  They even feel anxiety throughout their normal day.  It is difficult for them to relax; they are easily startled by people or sounds and they have trouble concentrating.  Sometimes they cannot sleep during the night or awaken in the morning on their own.  Below are a few other symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder:  
§  Tiredness
§  Aching muscles
§  Irritation
§  Nausea
§  Sweating
§  Lightheadedness
§  Shortness of breath
§  Shaking or trembling
§  Hot flashes
There are other anxiety disorders that happen together with GAD, such as drug abuse and depression. If treated properly, the individual affected can get over their worries with whatever problems they may be dealing with.



Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, happens whenever a person is extremely self-conscious and anxious. It happens every day in various social situations.  They are extremely fearful of being watched.  Also, they are fearful of being judged by others.  They make efforts to be extremely careful and go out of their way not to do things that could cause them embarrassment. 

For a while, they are really fearful prior to a situation that they feel may become a disaster.  It could become so bad that they lose concentration and cannot think straight. With social anxiety disorder, they can allow this fear to lead them to lose focus.  No matter whether it happens at school, work or at home, having social anxiety disorder makes it difficult for the affected individual to cultivate healthy relationships with others. 

With social anxiety disorder, it might be somewhat difficult for people to overcome their excessive fears and concerns.  This is true even if they know that what they feel is not reasonable.  Some will attempt to make amends.  Even then, there is a feeling of anxiety and they don't feel comfortable when other people are around them. They are overly concerned about how others think of them following the encounter.

A person could be in a social environment (for example, at dinner with someone or even more than one person) and they will experience anxiety because they are fearful.  They will sweat a great deal, blush, tremble, or find it hard to hold a discussion with other people at the table. They always appear to feel that other people are observing them.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
People that deal with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, constantly have thoughts that can make them upset.  To get their anxiety under control, they use compulsions (rituals). However, the tables end up turning on them because the rituals assume control over their mind. For example, there are some people that are obsessed with being clean. They may be known as "clean freaks".  Needless to say, it's a good practice to want everything to remain clean, however they can reach the point of being overly controlling about germs and bacteria or dirty areas.  They have a compulsion to clean their hands frequently.  They don't really want any germs or dirt and mud to touch their hands.  If they go to the bathroom, they will take a paper towel to open and close the door, just to avoid getting germs on their hands.

If people that have OCD don't feel like they look their best, they will look in the mirror many times until they feel they are presentable.  They don't really want to feel as if they look out of place in the midst of other people.  These actions provide them with a short-term release of the anxiety they have been feeling.  People who have this disorder are always compelled to check things repeatedly, or ensure that things are in the same place consistently. 

Sometimes, they may be obsessed with ideas of assault or injury to others.  They also have thoughts of crazy things that people would not normally think about.  Periodically they feel they need to hoard and keep things that they don't really need.  There are others that have rituals in their home.  One of the most common ones is checking the stove many times before they leave to ensure it is off. Having obsessive-compulsive disorder can turn into havoc and an unwelcome interruption when it happens on a regular basis.


Whenever a person is ingrained with obsessive-compulsive disorder, they know very well that what they may be doing may not make much sense, but they don't look at their behaviour as something that is abnormal.

The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder can come and go at any time.  If it really gets bad, it can severely affect a person from acting in a normal capacity and doing certain tasks.  It's a good idea for those that are dealing with this not to use alcohol or drugs to calm them down.  It just makes the situation worse for them.

There are certain treatments and medications that can be used to ward off obsessive-compulsive disorder.  They can help people that are in fear or anxiety to be desensitized to what is going on around them.

If you found this article interesting, educative, informative, inspiring or helpful in any way, please feel free to share it with your family and friends so they too can enjoy the same experience. You can also subscribe to this blog to receive future posts by email, by simply entering your email address on the Newsletter Subscription Form located at the bottom of this blog.
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Monday, 18 December 2017

How to Write Your Blog Contents

December 18, 2017 0

Writing for the web is not a case of collecting your ideas and putting them.  Before you actually write one phrase of content, you need to think about what you are going to say.  You ought to have your keywords organised into some sort of coherent list - and you should be weeding out those you're not thinking about using.  Once you've done that, you need to sit back and plan down your site.  You will need to plan at least 20 contents and choose some kind of posting schedule.

Once you've prepared your content, you can begin writing your posts.  You can queue your articles as you are writing them, providing you the additional benefit of having the ability to post series and have them ready to go, without dropping your flow.  We always advise that you stay at least three posts ahead of your posting timetable - because of this, if you strike a dry area, or find yourself too busy to create; you've kept 'disaster' content on tap, till you can re-evaluate.


What should a blog post BE?
Blog posts should follow one of a few formulae, but before you look at them - you should probably consider what they can and can't contain.  There are always a couple of 'no no's' in blogging.

To start with - your blog should be advertising light.  People don't want to read about your latest and greatest advert.  They would like to read about your thoughts and your topic. They want to know that you actually know what you're discussing, and most importantly, they would like to discuss, not be sold to; which means that though your blog will do the work of promoting your product, you have to do it without being blatantly advertorial.

You CAN write about products - talk about why you're so passionate about them - their features, things that cause you to want to utilize them - or the services, or problems they solve. You also won't need to just WRITE - you can upload pictures, podcasts (audio), video, multimedia system - in truth, the more interactive your blog is, without intruding on the knowledge of the common visitor, the increased traffic and return site visitors you'll get and the more comments your site will garner.

Writing for the web
Writing for the web is an art.  You should employ short phrases, with sub-headings, usually one per paragraph. Those sub-headings should be bolded, to stand out, because studies have proven, without a shadow of a doubt that most internet users, especially people that have a lower technical savvy than typical, skim read.  They skim read because we have been conditioned to trust a couple of things about the internet: there's a lot of good information out there - but it can be incredibly hard to find, even on 'trusted' sites.  Google's quality, page rank and duplicate content algorithms go a long way to assisting to sift the dross from the perfect, but we are still left with people gaming the machine, or even worse, not having the ability to clearly state what we, ourselves are looking for.

Keyword searching is a really good technique to learn, but for most people, keying in short phrases, or whole questions, is the way to go, filled with punctuation.  Depending on the sophistication of the software used, they might get just what they want, but the same studies that suggest people skim read, also tell us that people really do not understand how to get the most from the internet.  It is the case of knowing that the truth is out there.  But where?

Effective Blog Post Formula
Blogging has fallen into several styles, like articles in newspapers and magazines.  You are able to write and opt for several different formulae, but in the long run, you have to find a way, and a method of writing that is comfortable for you.

The most common and most effective way of blogging is 'problem - solution'.  You take one universal problem or current trend, or newsworthy subject, and you 'solve' it.  Solving it could be as easy as providing your thoughts and opinions, showing where you stand on any given issue, or it could be offering a genuine solution to a problem most of us encounter.

Problem - solution or 'action - reaction' blogs are extremely popular with a vast majority of visitors, but aren't without their inherent problems.  For a start, if you are 'solving' a current newsworthy problem, although you are giving people a view of the fact that you are human, you can also find that unless you are being careful about expressing your views, you are going to upset someone, somewhere along the line.  This can be a good thing, however, as it can promote conversation on your blog. You must take the good with the bad and accept that whatever one does, you will always ruffle some feathers - just like in real life.

A different type of highly popular blog post is the review.  It is fairly straight forward to write a review post, but you've got to be careful.  If it generally does not match the theme of your blog, you'll find that it actually damages your overall traffic.  Your blog should always be laser beam focused on the niche you want to talk about, and related areas to the niche market.  You can't set off topic! The very popular blog, http://lifehacker.com is full of these techniques - an article centred on resolving a problem.  The issue may well not be implicitly stated, but instead handled in general terms.  The alternatives are always bang on the money, which makes this blog a good read.  Its style is easy to emulate too.  What problems does your specific niche market have? Are there other alternatives that you know of?  And is it possible to express them basically?

The final type of post that is very popular and easy to create is the feature - features can be one article, or several long articles, with links to one another.  They have to cover something important and become packed filled with information.  Keyword rich, you want your readers to come away feeling like they've really discovered something, and search engines to come away with a complete new platter of wonderful content to increase their indexes.

The Art of Writing Itself
You have to remember that though some blogs are founded for personal gains, if you're working on it to make any kind of income in any way, you will need to consider that your blog is a marketing project.  You're either marketing this content, your business, or in some cases, yourself.  Once you have come to terms with that, you'll also understand why you can't use slang, or make spelling or grammar mistakes, but more importantly, you'll realize that blogging might be the main 'voice' or face you show people, so you'll need to offer a dependable and interesting brand.

There are specific types of post that work well with blogs from an internet marketer’s point of view – like information about your business. Go beyond FAQ's and contact details, and share information about your operation.  Make your blog readers feel like they are getting in on a secret of some description. Or share something that wouldn't ordinarily be online – such as your motivation for going into business. You can also recommend other marketers that you like, without appearing too fawning, if you're honest.   Talking about experience is a sure fire way to improve on both your customer image, and your professional image.

You can use your blog to archive articles and other freebies for your business.  More importantly, always ensure that you have somewhere on your blog where people can join your mailing list.  Giving them the option to do that will also mean that you've got multiple streams of traffic to and from your blog.  People are more likely sign up for your newsletter if they like what you're posting on your blog. 

It has been suggested that there's a definite link between people that sign up for your newsletter, and people that comment on blogs attached to newsletters – and these people are the ones that are interested, interactive readers.  They have a vested interest in commenting on your blog.


Final Thoughts
Blogging isn't just about providing search engine content, and though it’s a great way to make connections with your customer base, the most important thing to remember is that shallow content breeds shallow contacts.  What this means is that if you're posting trivial stuff, people that are interested in little more than the trivial stuff will read your blog, and no one else.

Though you will start out with a strong plan, and should try to stick to that as much as possible for the first few months (so as not to confuse yourself or waste the research you did in founding the blog) you should also consider the needs, wants and interests of your readers.  Do THEY comment on more of one type of content?  Can you write to fit the things they are raising?

Blogging is about sharing your passion, your enthusiasm, and your experience with others, and to do that, you've got to believe in what you're writing.  If you don't, then how can you expect your readers to enjoy and comment?

If you found this article interesting, educative, informative, inspiring or helpful in any way, please feel free to share it with your family and friends so they too can enjoy the same experience. You can also subscribe to this blog to receive future posts by email, by simply entering your email address on the Newsletter Subscription Form located at the bottom of this blog.
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Sunday, 17 December 2017

Understanding Insurance Frauds and their Ramifications

December 17, 2017 0

Insurance fraud is any act committed with the intent to fraudulently obtain payment from an insurerInsurance fraud has existed ever since the beginning of insurance as a commercial enterprise. Fraudulent claims account for a significant portion of all claims received by insurers, and cost billions of dollars annually worldwide.

Types of insurance fraud are very diverse, and occur in all areas of insurance. Insurance crimes also range in severity, from slightly exaggerating claims to deliberately causing accidents or damage. Fraudulent activities also affect the lives of innocent people, both directly through accidental or purposeful injury or damage, and indirectly as these crimes cause insurance premiums to be higher.  Insurance fraud poses a very significant problem, and governments and other organizations are making efforts to deter such activities.

CAUSES

The chief motive in all insurance crimes is financial profit.  Insurance contracts provide both the insured and the insurer with opportunities for exploitation.  One reason that this opportunity arises is in the case of over-insurance, when the amount insured is greater than the actual value of the property insured.  This condition can be very difficult to avoid, especially since an insurance provider might sometimes encourage it in order to obtain greater profits.  This allows fraudsters to make profits by destroying their property because the payment they receive from their insurers is of greater value than the property they destroy.

Insurance companies are also susceptible to fraud because false insurance claims can be made to appear like ordinary claims. This allows fraudsters to file claims for damage that never occurred, and so obtain payment with little or no initial cost. The most common form of insurance fraud is inflating of loss.

LOSSES DUE TO INSURANCE FRAUD
It is virtually impossible to determine an exact value for the amount of money stolen through insurance fraud.  Insurance fraud is designed to be undetectable, unlike visible crimes such as robbery or murder.  As such, the number of cases of insurance fraud that are detected is much lower than the number of acts that are actually committed.  The best that can be done is to provide an estimate for the losses that insurers suffer due to insurance fraud.  The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates that in 2006 a total of about $80 billion was lost in the United States due to insurance fraud.  According to estimates by the Insurance Information Institute, insurance fraud accounts for about 10% of the property/casualty insurance industry’s incurred losses and loss adjustment expenses. 

The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimates that 3% of the healthcare industry’s expenditures in the United States are due to fraudulent activities, amounting to a cost of about $51 billion.  Other estimates attribute as much as 10% of the total healthcare spending in the United States to fraud—about $115 billion annually.  In the United Kingdom, the Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates that the loss due to insurance fraud in the United Kingdom is about £1.5 billion ($3.08 billion), causing a 5% increase in insurance premiums.  The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates that personal injury fraud in Canada costs about C$500 million annually.   In Nigeria, and many other developing countries, there are no available/reliable statistics on how much is lost by insurers as a result of fraudulent claims.


TYPES OF INSURANCE FRAUD

HARD VS. SOFT FRAUD
Insurance fraud can be classified as either hard fraud or soft fraud.

Hard fraud occurs when someone deliberately plans or invents a loss, such as a collision, auto theft, or fire that is covered by their insurance policy in order to receive payment for damage.  Criminal rings are sometimes involved in hard fraud schemes that can steal millions of dollars.

Soft fraud, which is far more common than hard fraud, is sometimes also referred to as opportunistic fraud.  This type of fraud consists of policyholders exaggerating otherwise legitimate claims.  For example, when involved in a collision an insured person might claim more damage than was really done to his or her car.  Soft fraud can also occur when, while obtaining a new insurance policy, an individual misreports previous or existing conditions in order to obtain a lower premium on their insurance policy.

LIFE INSURANCE
An example of life insurance fraud is the John Darwin disappearance case, a faked death of British former teacher and prison officer, John Darwin, who turned up alive in December 2007, five years after he was thought to have died in a canoeing accident. Darwin was reported as "missing" after failing to report to work following a canoeing trip on March 21, 2002. He reappeared on December 1, 2007, claiming to have no memory of the past five years.

HEALTHCARE INSURANCE
The most common perpetrators of healthcare insurance fraud are healthcare providers. One reason for this, according to David Hyman, a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, is that the historically prevailing attitude in the medical profession is one of “fidelity to patients”.  This incentive can lead to fraudulent practices such as billing insurers for treatments that are not covered by the patient’s insurance policy. To do this, physicians often bill for a different service, which is covered by the policy, than that which was rendered.

Another motivation for insurance fraud in the healthcare industry, just as in all other types of insurance fraud, is a desire for financial gain.  Physicians use several fraudulent techniques to achieve this end. These can include “up-coding” or “upgrading,” which involve billing for more expensive treatments than those actually provided; providing and subsequently billing for treatments that are not medically necessary; scheduling extra visits for patients; referring patients to another physician when no further treatment is actually necessary; "phantom billing," or billing for services not rendered; and “ganging,” or billing for services to family members or other individuals who are accompanying the patient but who did not personally receive any services.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE
It is estimated that 21% to 36% of auto-insurance claims contained elements of suspected fraud.  There is a wide variety of schemes used to defraud automobile insurance providers. These ploys can differ greatly in complexity and severity.

Examples of soft auto-insurance fraud can include:
Ø  filing more than one claim for a single injury,
Ø  filing claims for injuries not related to an automobile accident,
Ø  misreporting wage losses due to injuries,
Ø  reporting higher costs for car repairs than those that were actually paid.

Hard auto-insurance fraud can include activities such as
Ø  staging automobile collisions,
Ø  filing claims when the claimant was not actually involved in the accident,
Ø  submitting claims for medical treatments that were not received,
Ø   inventing injuries. 
Ø  when claimants falsely report their vehicle as stolen.


Soft fraud accounts for the majority of fraudulent auto-insurance claims.

PROPERTY INSURANCE
Possible motivations for this can include obtaining payment that is worth more than the value of the property destroyed, or to destroy and subsequently receive payment for goods that could not otherwise be sold. According to Alfred Manes, the majority of property insurance crimes involve arson.  One reason for this is that any evidence that a fire was started by arson is often destroyed by the fire itself.


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Thursday, 7 December 2017

Customer Loyalty - a Must for Business Success

December 07, 2017 0
Customer loyalty is the single most important element to retain within the business relationship.  A lot of positive elements can be derived from a well-established customer base. Large sums of money are spent on advertising, primarily to gain a greater market share of consumers, but with the availability of a dedicated customer base, these expenditures can be put into other uses that will be more beneficial to the business enterprise.

The Importance of Customer Loyalty
Companies that have a high loyal customer base have the advantage of putting their resources into a self-reinforcing system in which the company provides constantly evolving superior value and high quality products and services that will benefit their customers. This will likely further create the comfortable relationship desired to successfully keep the customers both happy and devoted. There is also the added advantage of the pre-existing customers who consciously help to introduce family and friends to the products and services predicated on personal testimonies and enthusiasm.

Another importance of retaining a high loyal customer base is that companies have the ability to provide good customer induction strategies that contribute to an increased customer base and thus give higher revenue by reducing the necessity to spend money attracting potential, but necessarily viable customers.  However, such techniques should in no way take the place of good and exemplary customer service.



The element of trust is quite hard to achieve and even harder to nurture, but with the right process in place and use without deviation, it is possible to build the desired trust between the seller and the customers.  This trust factor will then translate to converting the casual customer into a loyal one. Thus, any complaints or misgivings regarding the products or services should be dealt with swiftly and to the satisfaction of the customer. Companies that take the grievances of their customers seriously are usually the ones that have the best loyal customer base on record.

Know Where You Are in Customer Loyalty
Being able to discern one's position with regards to the customer loyalty can be tough if not impossible sometimes. However, fortunately, there are some old methods you can use to achieve this goal.

Being able to retain a loyal customer base has its merits and understanding the customer sentiment is pivotal to attaining this loyalty factor.  As loyal customers are a good sign to a thriving and successful business enterprise, making the effort to concentrate on understanding the level of each customer's loyalty is both prudent and beneficial in the long run.

This understanding can help predict, to a certain degree, the ratio between your potentially loyal customer and those who may not ever become the desired loyal customer needed to keep the business running. By making this discovery, the company may then take the desired action to prevent customers from being just one-time users.

Here are some things to consider in trying to understand the company's position within the customer's way of thinking:
1)   Making the effort to gather the necessary data to examine the customer's reason for making the purchase or for displaying an interest in the goods and services offered.
2)   Learning if the customer would be willing or even happy to introduce the product or service to others.
3)   Getting feedbacks of the level of satisfaction derived from using the product or service or not having the said satisfaction.

Armed with this information, there should also be a proactive action to address any negative feedback received. With the feedback gathered from the customers, there must be a concerted effort to make the necessary improvements to the products or services to further encourage the commitment on the part of the customer to continue to stay loyal.



Understand Your Target Audience and Their Needs
To a certain degree, perceptions are made based on the data garnered through specific means. However, these means and methods may not always be reliable thus creating the opportunity of ineffective handling of any problems or needs that may arise. For any product or service to become a success and preserve itself, there is a definite advantage to understanding the prospective audience and their needs. 

The need for understanding this process is to effectively eliminate any wastage of work and resources on incorrect perceptions made. Understanding the difference between the actual needs of the target audience, and measuring it against the perceived needs that the seller has been given to understand, can help the seller to redefine the product or service to concentrate on the aforementioned fact.

Sometimes however, such information can be very difficult to process as the customers themselves may not really understand what their specific needs or wants are. This can be looked upon as an advantage on the part of the seller as it creates the opportunity for the seller to promote the product or service in a way that is attractive to the customer.

Also when the customer's needs are clearly understood, there can then be a clearer method used to garner the interest and possible successful sale. Advertising and information can be specifically made to catch the attention of the customer predicated on the information gathered.

Continuously adapting to the customer’s interests will allow for the success rates to be better in ensuring the loyalty factor. This in itself can contribute further in creating the customer’s faith in the product or service being offered; as it portrays the commitment levels the company is willing to take to ensure the customer stays happy. 

Offer Exceptional Customer Service
Most businesses today offer virtually the products or services, so the main way a seller can have an advantage over their competitors is to provide exceptional customer service.  Products today don't really differ much in terms of functions and prices, so by taking the trouble to provide good customer service, the potential customer can be persuaded to make repeat purchases.

Below are a few recommendations a seller can follow in the quest to provide exceptional customer services:

v Because most initial enquiries are done over the telephone, making it a habit to return or respond to all telephone inquiries is very important and definitely advisable. Doing this in a prompt and courteous manner is also another way of making the customer feel important.



v Providing a follow-up service or enquiry into the satisfaction of the product or service helps both parties gain vital information and build a relationship of trust and commitment. This also gives the seller an insight to the expectations of the customer.

v Taking the customer's concerns critically and implementing the necessary steps to address these concerns is also another beneficial trait of exceptional customer service. This not only relieves the customers’ concerns, it also establishes the seller's commitment to guarantee customer satisfaction.

  It is very important to stay focused and view the problem from the customer’s perspective. When confronted with a problem, a customer can, more often than not, make unrealistic claims and remarks.  Therefore, having a calm disposition would help to defuse any potentially unpleasant situation. 


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