Two Recommended Hospitals in Madrid

Madrid is the capital of Spain and could very well be considered the financial capital of Southern Europe. The city has many tourist attractions such as several world famous art museums, some Catholic churches and numerous historic buildings. Madrid has many world-class hospitals in both public and private sectors. These well-equipped health care facilities offer the service of English speaking staff and accept all major health insurances. The following is a summary of some famous hospitals in Madrid.

Hospital de Madrid situated at Plaza Conde del Valle de Suchil 16, 28015 is one of the leading hospitals in Madrid offering high quality health care service. This modern private hospital is operated by the Hospital de Madrid Group - a renowned health care service provider of Madrid. It has a spacious outpatient section featuring well-equipped departments in all medical specialties. It also has specialized units for digestive diseases, pain management and various types of surgery. The surgery section is equipped with modern devices and facilities. The emergency department is well equipped with a defibrillator, blood banks and easy access to laboratory. The Intensive Care Unit and Coronary Care Unit have specialized doctors and nurses. The analysis laboratory is capable of performing every hematological, microbiological and biochemical test due to its automated equipment. The pathology and cytology laboratories are also well equipped. Telephone: 34 914 47 66 00

Hospital Universitario La Paz is the most popular public health care facility in the city. The hospital is located in the north of Madrid at Paseo de la Castellana, no. 261, 28046. This large hospital has an area of 180,000 square meters and is made up of a general hospital, a maternity hospital, a children's hospital and a hospital of traumatology and rehabilitation. Hospital Universitario La Paz offers quality medical service to more than a million patients each and every year by employing 7,000 staff members. Hospital La Paz offers a very large number of health services as well. This sustainable hospital has implemented many environmental management policies according to the international guidelines of ISO 14001. Hospital La Paz has units in all specialties of medicine including dental care.

Get Organized for 2011

This is the time of the year when more of the elderly require hands on assistance typically from a long-term care facility like Keiro. With the monthly cost of care at $6,000 or more, an option that many families choose to help pay for some of the costs is Medi-Cal.

But, as with many government programs the amount of paperwork to fill out can be overwhelming. Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks for the family is the gathering of the necessary information that the State requires for the approval of benefits. The following list should help you to be prepared if such an event should occur.

Information for both husband and wife are required, not just for the applicant. Copies are fine.

1. Social Security card

2. Medicare card

3. Health insurance card

4. Valid California Senior ID card or Driver's License. If none is available, then a recent utility bill in the applicant's name.

5. Birth Certificate. If none is available, then a voter registration card.

6. Resident Alien card or naturalization certificate.

7. Current facility information such as name, address, and phone number

8. Most recent health insurance bill showing name of insured, premium amount, frequency of payment. If applicant belongs to the gardener's association Blue Cross plan, make a copy of bill prior to submitting with payment.

9. Payment stubs or statements showing gross pension, Social Security, or other income.

10. "Your New Benefit Amount" from Social Security that comes in December showing next year's monthly benefit. This statement typically arrives in December.

11. Previous 4 months bank statements including closed accounts. All pages must be provided even if the page is blank.

12. Previous 4 months brokerage, mutual funds or other investment account statements

13. Life insurance and annuity policy and most recent statement showing face amount and cash value

14. Burial trust policy paperwork including contract

15. Vehicle registration

16. Deed for burial plot

17. Deed and tax bills for all real estate

18. Living trust including Schedule A

Keep copies in a place where it can be easily accessed in time of crisis. Also, keep the Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management and Advanced Health Care Directive handy. It doesn't have to be fancy. Use a big cardboard box and throw everything in there. At least you'll know everything is in one place.

One of the most frustrating tasks is showing the trail of money when an account such as a certificate of deposit has been closed. When the Medi-Cal application is submitted, the State pulls up all of the past three years 1099's. If a 1099 shows up for an account that has not been accounted for in the application, the State wants to know if the account is still open or closed.

If it is closed, they want a closing statement showing a zero balance. They then want to know what happened to the money and you must show proof of the disposition of the funds through deposit receipts and bank statements.

Also, frustrating is that Medi-Cal wants to see all of the pages of your bank statements. For instance, let's say that there are four pages in the statement. However, the last page is either blank or has all of the garbage language. Well, most normal people would throw away that last page to save space in their files. Bad move. They want this page. So, the moral of the story is "save everything."

Dealing with banks such as Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Union Bank, and California Bank and Trust, on behalf of a person that is legally incapacitated can be time consuming and frustrating even if you have an attorney drafted Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management.

It is the policy of the banks that unless a Power of Attorney card is on file, then the person taking care of the finances for the incapacitated person will not have access to the account.

A very easy solution that doesn't cost anything except your time is to have the bank account owner and person that is going to handle the finances get a Limited Power of Attorney card filled out for each bank where there is an account. Both have to go to the branch.

This way it is on file and the Attorney in Fact can start handling the finances right away. This is a great way for parents to make sure that their kids can take over without them actually being an owner of the account. Should the kid get sued or divorced, the parent's funds are safe.

This does not apply to credit unions. They will accept the attorney drafted Power of Attorney.

Another issue that has come up recently is due to the Patriot Act. Let's say that you are widowed and have a brokerage account titled in the name of your living trust with one of the major firms. You have a checking account in your name only. When you close your brokerage account, the firm will give you a check made payable to your living trust.

Did you know that you cannot deposit that check in your checking account? It would have to be deposited in a checking account that was titled in the name of your living trust. "Like into like".

But what would happen if you had severe Alzheimer's, are in a long-term care facility, couldn't walk and didn't have a valid, in force California Senior ID? Your family would be stuck because you have to have a valid ID, be able to get to the bank, and be mentally competent to open a checking account titled in the name of your living trust.

This is a very common problem that we see. There are very straight forward ways to avoid this problem. The accounts should be titled in the widower's name only with a beneficiary named. Banks refer to this as a Pay on Death (POD) account and securities firms refer to this as a Transfer on Death (TOD) account.

Titling the accounts as TOD or POD means that if the account is closed while the account holder is still living, the check is issued in the individual's name only and can then be deposited in the individually titled checking account with no problem.

But if the person were to die, the proceeds of the account would go to the beneficiary on the account bypassing probate.

If you do these very simple things to get organized for the New Year, you won't be a burden on the family down the road, and they will appreciate all the work that you have done.

Copyright 2010 Karl Kim.

What Does A Personal Injury Attorney Supposed To Do?

Personal injuries are not just morbid, but, unpredictable - lurking around you always, waiting in to strike you suddenly at the slightest chance and put you off guard! But, you need not worry, you're not entirely defenseless, an injury attorney can help you get financial compensations and bring you out of the legal complications. Whether you meet with an unfortunate car accident, are bitten by a stray dog, or suffer from any form of injury during a surgery or an operation - in any case of injury you should always consult a certified legal representative to help you fathom out successfully from a physical or psychological injury due to the negligence of an individual or an agency. A personal injury attorney helps you to disentangle complications and to endure temporary or permanent disability in a better way. Punishing the person responsible for the loss you suffered and demanding compensation is the only justified approach to any form of crime due to negligence.

In case of an injury, it is suggested that you seek medical guidance without any delay. It would help you to measure the extent of injury so that you could file a complaint to the police depending on your situation. Always remember that an well-documented and thorough event authenticated by police reports, accounts of the eyewitnesses, elaborate descriptions, and photos can go a long way in making the case favorable to you. It is the role of an injury attorney to help you collect maximum compensation by maintaining all the records related to the case, injury and placing them before the court of law.

It is also the job of a personal injury attorney to talk and negotiate with the insurance companies. There are various factors to be considered at the time of claiming the insurance money - medical expenses, lost wages due to absence from work, and the extent of physical and psychological trauma you have suffered. It is better to let an attorney represent you both at the court of law and before the insurers. Often these insurance companies trick you by offering you less money than you deserve - and the worst part is - you won't be able to identify the trick or know the actual amount you deserve. That is why; it is advised to trust a personal injury attorney in such cases.

Medical Industry Jobs Emphasizing Care Encouraged As The Health Change Legislation Takes Effect

If you're thinking of doing one of the medical industry jobs, now it's time to make it happen! Thanks to the Health Change Legislation of 2010, a lot of people are intending to get the financing they need to acquire treatment. The healthcare industry has long been a good industry for the young. Even before the legislation passed, the United States of America has been going through a shortage of medical experts. At this point, the new legislation has engendered a looming problem - by 2020, we are going to end up being out a number of 40,000 primary care specialists.

The already stressed medical profession will feel the burden of this new regulation instantaneously. In 2010, America's uninsured will certainly obtain instant eligibility for medical care insurance, being authorized admittance through high risk pools. Millions will soon be visible on the rolls, countless rapidly trying out medical care - in most cases, with a family practice - therefore boosting demands on main care workers.

Before the Health Reform Act, no offers have been around in place to attract people taking into consideration healthcare industry careers into the principal treatment sector. The nursing profession has always been limited. Family physicians aren't abundant. With 2010 opening medical care insurance nearly all sick children, the emergency wards will see a decrease in situations while family practices get overwhelmed. Acquiring patients away from emergency room treatments and into early primary care was one of the main objectives of the legislation.

The majority of America's yearly $2 trillion dollars invested on health care proceed to urgent situation rooms, from where the poor unavoidably come to acquire medication for ailments that may have been taken care of in the major degree. Principal care is always less expensive compared to crisis room attention. The United States of America will save you billions of dollars by moving care out of the urgent situation room and into a principal healthcare provider's office, yet without enough primary care experts, how will the demand be satisfied?

The increase in requirement for primary health care professionals will definitely come to be increased in the years ahead. In 2014, almost all Americans will be required to have health care insurance. Of the 50 million without insurance today, 38 million are required to become covered by 2019. Even if people just now looking into health care industry careers were to go in the principal care industry, it would not be a minimum of another 7 years before those professionals could actually absorb the increase in demand. Something must be done now to attract people looking into health care industry professions in main care - if we're going to be able to meet the demand.

Fortunately, the new legislation has anticipated this need for recruits into principal care. The regulation provides for scholastic aid and five years of funding aimed at increasing the ranks of principal care experts. That means those going into the medical field will find scholarships and grants more easily obtainable. Not only will loans for training in the field be easier to get, but loan payback rates for those going into main care will be low and easy. Crowning these benefits, primary care specialists will also receive higher pay.

If you're thinking of embarking on one of the medical industry professions available, now is the time to go for major care. For this Health Reform Regulation to work, America needs your commitment now, and it's willing to pay for it.

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Company Car Allowance

An alternative to providing your employees with cars

Offering employees a company car allowance instead of a car will mitigate employers Class 1A National Insurance Contributions (for providing both a company car and - in some cases - fuel) and remove employees' company car tax liabilities - a potential win-win scenario for both parties. A car allowance, also known as 'cash for car', is - put simply - an salary enhancement paid to the employee in lieu of the provision of a car.

The company also benefits by removing the Whole Life Costs associated with operating a company car and the cost burden that administration of running a car fleet brings with it. The employees also benefit greatly, as they will effectively see a pay rise in their monthly salary, based on PAYE deductions associated with the Benefit in Kind (BIK) calculations of company car tax.

The shift to company car allowances was partially driven by the Labour Government's 2002 Budget changes to Benefit In Kind (BIK) tax, which forced many desirable "status cars" off user-chooser company car lists.

Employees can use their monthly salary enhancements to buy or lease a new car, either by using conventional funding methods - hire purchase and lease purchase - or by choosing a personal contract purchase (PCP) agreement or personal contract hire (PCH) agreement, which are offered by many of the UK's top leasing companies.

The latter two leasing agreements involve paying fixed monthly payments or rentals. With PCP contracts, ownership of the car is normally through payment of a final balloon payment, but both options normally provide the lessee with the option to hand the car back at the end of the agreement (normally 2 or 3 years) - subject to a pre-agreed mileage and fair wear and tear.

Employees using their own cars for business mileage can recoup some of their motoring costs by claiming back tax and National Insurance Contribution-free (NIC-free) Authorised Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs). The Government has set the target at 40p for the first 10,000 miles in a tax year and 25p per mile thereafter. Caution with such schemes is advised here, as there is a potential risk that these could payments provide employees with incentives to drive more business miles than is actually necessary.

Though they have many benefits, Company Car Allowance schemes can under-deliver in the following areas:

  • Excessive mileage claims
  • Inadequate insurance issues, as cars may not be properly insured for business use
  • Vehicle safety issues, as employers still have a duty of care over their business drivers, even if employees drive their own cars
  • During a recession, Company Car Allowances can become more expensive, while the price of new cars can often fall in real terms. Employers can find themselves paying Company Car Allowances to employees that actually costs them more than providing the employee with a company car.
Naturally, some employees may opt to buy a used car with a cash allowance. However, it is generally larger, less fuel-efficient cars that offer the best value second hand. This could have an adverse affect any environmental goals that the company might have.

Managing your "Grey Fleet"
Employers retain responsibility for an employee's safety - even when the employee drives their own car for business - as it is a designated workplace. Often, this can cause unforeseen problems, as these vehicles are typically "off the radar" of most companies - certainly in respect of being fit for purpose.

Whilst many companies were unwinding their company car fleets due to increase company car taxation, many businesses failed to recognise that they would still have duty of care responsibilities over their employees who would drive their own vehicles on company business. These vehicles are referred to as a company's "grey fleet".

Here are a few tips that should help businesses to keep track of its "grey fleet" drivers:

  • Support your grey fleet employees, so that they make an informed decision about taking a Car Allowance in lieu of a company car. Employees could spend the next three or four years wondering if they have made the right decision. Help them by explaining exactly what each choice will mean to them in terms of their personal tax position and other items of expenditure associated with running a car.
  • Regularly check the driving licences of your "grey fleet" employees. And make it compulsory for all business drivers to regularly submit copies of their driving licences, as businesses are required to have these records by law. Better still, use a third party to run a thorough check with the DVLA.
  • Where an employee's own vehicle is used for business journeys, restrict their choices to exclude soft-tops or old cars. Staff will be resistant to any policy that comes across as too heavy-handed, but it's fair enough to mandate that the vehicle has four doors, four seats and is of professional, business-like appearance.
  • Invest in a robust mileage tracking tool, preferably with a payroll reporting facility.
  • Tighten-up the management of a mixed fleet. Many companies offer a casual version of this by offering car allowances and cars alongside each other, but a specialist mixed fleet provider will manage a mixed fleet in the most tax-efficient way, and take care of all the mile-logging, occupation road risk and general administration tasks. This type of scheme would only be suitable for fleets of over 50 cars.

5 Steps to Attain Retirement Security for All Americans

Our retirement system is failing too many Americans. The U.S. government needs to step up to the plate to lead our country in a new direction. America is the strongest, most prosperous, and most resilient nation in history. We can close our eyes, keep avoiding the problem, and end up with most of our retirees in poverty. Or, we can choose a new course - one that leaves no worker behind and ensures everyone a retirement with dignity after a lifetime of work.
Employers, workers, and the government share the responsibility for the retirement security for all Americans. When it comes to retirement security there is no quick fix. But we can't put the hard work off any longer. The stakes are too high. Here are 5 areas that I believe we need to address:

1. Empower All Americans:

With the transition from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans, Americans are burdened with an investment risk they can't handle. They don't have the investment training, experience and wherewithal to take on this shift in responsibility. There is a universal need to help individuals know how much to contribute for their retirement and how to invest their assets.

The Social Security Administration expects that over the next two decades, 80 million Baby Boomers will apply for retirement benefits. While companies are doing some retirement communication, it generally is not universal and does not meet the mark. Our government can help encourage individuals to plan and save for their retirement:

• Include with the mailing of each annual tax return form, an easy to understand guide to retirement planning and investment. Add a link on the guide for recommended retirement planning software that is comprehensive and easy to use.

• Consider implementing a government sponsored, universal, and voluntary savings plan for all Americans that would provide a secure incentive for those not covered by an employer plan at a reasonable cost and with passive investment in low-cost index funds. Require employers who do not offer retirement plans to set up automatic payroll deductions into their employee's individual account and provide a 4% of pay employer contribution. Boost participation by having workers opt out rather than opt in. Distributions would only be made at retirement in the form of a cost-of-living annuity (with 50% to spouse in the event of the individual's death).This would provide a steady retirement income for life.

2. Social Security Needs a Permanent "Fix":

The 80 Million baby boomers will put incredible pressure on Social Security funding levels. There are only three ways to fix the problem: raise taxes, reduce spending, or make the current payroll taxes work harder by investing them in higher yielding securities.

• Raise taxes: Lawmakers could (1) increase the amount of income subject to the payroll tax that funds Social Security, (2) increase the tax rate on that income, or (3) tax on all Social Security benefits.

• Lower benefits: Choices include deferring the retirement age, lowering benefits, and lowering the cost-of living adjustments.

• Improve Investment: Invest payroll taxes in a diversified portfolio of higher yielding securities.

While the choices are many, the solution will likely include some combination of all of the ones listed above. The longer Washington waits, the more dramatic the changes must be.

3. Medicare Also Needs a Permanent "Fix":

Soaring healthcare costs are driving entitlement to grow at a rate much faster than the U.S. economy over the next several decades - by an average of 3% more than the U. S. economy. More than 85 million Americans rely on Medicare and another 80 million baby boomers are around the corner. As with Social Security, raising taxes and/or lowering benefits need to be looked at seriously, as well as:

• Eliminate Waste. Medicare waste is so common we rarely take any notice of it.

• Stop Fraud. Medicare fraud can be up to $100 billion dollars a year.

• Reduce Part D (Prescription Drug) Costs: Use Medicare's buying power to increase rebates from pharmaceutical companies.

• Undo ObamaCare Cuts for Seniors: Mr. Obama's pledge that "If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep it" clearly does not apply to America's seniors.The CMS Office of the Actuary estimates that the ObamaCare will force 7.4 million people (50 percent of enrollees) out of the Medicare Advantage health plans ("MA Plans") and put them back into a Fee-For-Service program. Doctors accepting Medicare patients are facing a 23 percent cut in reimbursements on Dec. 1, and another 2 percent in January unless Congress votes to exempt them from the cuts tied to a budget balancing formula adopted in the 90's. If the cuts are allowed to go into effect, many physicians may have to stop accepting Medicare patients, making it more difficult to find medical care.

4. Encourage Rather Than Discourage Defined Benefit Plans:

Our government is fostering a policy that encourages the freezing and termination of defined benefit pension plans. Yet these types of plans, that provide employees a dependable lifetime income, are just what Americans need to eliminate the investment and longevity risks that they can't handle. Here are some things the government could do to help future retirees meet their dreams and encourage the creation and continuation of defined benefit pension plans:

• Eliminate all Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation ("PBGC") premiums for company plans where assets exceed liabilities under PBGC assumptions. Companies should not be penalized for properly funding their plans and, therefore, where insurance isn't necessary.

• Eliminate the cap on an employer's tax-deductible contributions, if the contribution will not over fund the plan on a PBGC basis by more than 20%. This will encourage companies to fund a reasonable cushion of protection.

• Eliminate the excise tax upon plan termination for the first 20% assets in excess of liabilities on a PBGC basis. This will also encourage companies to fund a reasonable cushion of protection.

• Eliminate all limits on an executives' participation in qualified retirement plans (e.g. no limit on compensation). By encouraging executives to rely on qualified plans for all of their retirement needs, they are in turn encouraged to develop and keep better plans for all employees.

5. Protect sources of retirement income:

Major declines and fluctuations in the values of investment assets and home values mean Baby Boomers will have far less money than they expected when they retire. They will have to save more, spend less, and work longer in order to meet their retirement dreams. To help mitigate the investment and longevity risks, Social Security could be expanded to allow individuals to transfer some or all of their savings plan balances into the Social Security system to "buy":

• An annuity from the Social Security System as they would from and insurance company but without the costly commissions and profit margins.

• Longevity insurance from the Social Security System (e.g. purchase a deferred annuity at retirement but with benefits that would be payable if and when the Social Security beneficiary or spouse attains age 80) also without the costly insurance company commissions and profit margins.

This would allow individuals to have a stable source of income. It will also remove some of the investment and longevity risk, at a reasonable cost.

Medicare Advantage, Big Bang for the Buck or Penny Wise and Pound Foolish?

Medicare Advantage plans at first glance can seem very appealing when considering the $0 premium or low premium options. However, in light of current trends, the unknowing beneficiary may be setting themselves up for a future fall that will potentially undo all the "perceived savings".

Medicare Advantage plans or Medicare Part C is when a private insurance company contracts with the federal government to offer coverage to Medicare beneficiaries. This coverage typically takes the form of an HMO or PPO plan. The government gives the insurance company a set amount for each beneficiary with the requirement that the insurance company set up a plan which has to be at least the actuarial equivalent of Medicare A and B. The beneficiary is still required to pay their Medicare B premium.

Most companies offer a $0 premium plan. Many of these plans offer additional benefits such as dental, vision, hearing and even gym memberships. These plans will typically include prescription coverage as well. To the layperson, these plans can look great and if you are a healthy person who rarely goes to the doctor or hospital, you can certainly come out ahead if you are paying $0 and tucking the savings in the bank. One other point to mention is that Medicare A and B do not cap your cost exposure. The majority of these plans have a maximum out-of-pocket limit thereby limiting the beneficiary's exposure to cost in a given year.

What are the pitfalls of the Medicare Advantage plans? The most obvious and well documented is the 500 billion (yes, I said billion) dollar cuts to Medicare over the next ten years. This comes courtesy of the 2010 Health reform. The majority of these cuts will come in the form of reduced subsidies to advantage plans.

Going forward, if the government is slashing subsidies on these plans, common sense should tell us that the companies will have to reduce their benefits. For example, in 2010, there was no cut in subsidy; however there was no increase either. The insurance companies have depended on these increases because medical inflation runs around 6-7%. The results are that benefits schedule on these plans have changed in ways that the average person would not recognize. For example, the maximum out of pocket limits went up on most plans shifting more cost exposure to the beneficiary. Those changes were reflected in the 2011 plans. If that happened with no cut in subsidy, imagine next year what will happen, when they reduce the funding?

Another big drawback is that the plans are not guaranteed renewable. This means if the company you choose drops their plan at the end of the year, you will need to search for a new plan.

Here's the bottom line. Most Medicare recipients are either retired or on their way, health coverage should be a primary consideration in the financial plan. Common sense suggests that as we age the chances are greater that we will have health concerns. So look at it this way. As time goes forward, folks with Medicare Advantage will have increased exposure to costs combined with the increased chances of needing health care. This is not a winning combination.

Medicare Advantage plans are good for folks who cannot afford a Medicare supplement. However if you can swing a Medicare supplement plan, you will have locked up the best coverage you can get.

2009 - A Safer Year for Motorcyclists in Texas

For years it seemed the statistics surrounding motorcycle accidents and death kept getting more and more grim more often than not riders were getting caught in accidents resulting in injury or death. However, 2009 saw a significant reduction in the amount of accidents and fatalities between motorcyclists and motorists. For the year 2009, the number of motorcycle accidents decreased by 18%. This is a significant decrease considering that between 2000 -2008 the number increased by 31%.

The decline seems to be the result of increased outreach efforts by the state of Texas to help riders and drivers alike stay more aware on the road. New licensing requirements in the state also require that both cyclists and motorists to take additional safety classes. The classes are designed to provide both riders and motorists with information on how to increase their awareness and be defensive on the road. Attorneys in Texas and insurers alike are pushing the state to keep the regulations and awareness campaigns going through 2011. Given the effects seen so far, it's likely the effort will continue.

Safety on the road is a life or death proposition. Even if you aren't required to take a defensive riding class, you should. Safety classes can teach you how to avoid and safely get out of dangerous situations so that you can ride safely. Riders who have documented safety classes may also be eligible for discounts or lower premiums from their insurers. If you are interested in learning more about potential classes or additional safety information, reach out to your MyTX agent today.

KAFO - Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis - What This Brace Does and Where To Find One

1.) What is a KAFO?

The acronym KAFO stands for a "knee ankle foot orthosis". - This is a brace (orthosis) that extends from under your foot, up past your knee and includes at least part of your thigh. Usually, most of the thigh is included and as you can see the knee, ankle and foot are all involved; thus the term.

2.) Why Would Someone Need A KAFO?

A person can benefit from the use of a KAFO when they have weakness or instability in their lower extremities. This means that not only is their ankle and foot in need of support, but their knee also needs improved levels of direct support as well. - Knee joints and ankle joints can be involved as well that can allow or restrict motion, depending on the diagnosis as well.

3.) Fracture KAFOs

When a person fractures a bone at or near the knee joint, they can also benefit from what is called a "fracture KAFO". These braces can be very effective because when movement is not wanted at a fracture site then this brace can restrict undesirable movements. Typically the knee joint will be "locked out" and you may still be allowed to have ankle range of motion to help you still have a relatively smooth gait.

4.) Where To Get A KAFO

A KAFO is something that you might see pictures of on the internet, but it is important to not get a custom KAFO from anyone that is not a professional in the field of orthotics. When we refer to "professional" here we mean that they must have a license in the field of orthotics. - To many people will tell you that they are medical professionals and try to fit you with a brace but it is at this point that you are starting to take chances. A custom KAFO should be provided to you by an orthotist.

5.) Insurance & Braces

When you go to your appointment for the casting and measuring process of a KAFO, it is important to bring your ID and any health insurance information that you have. Many times, a person's insurance can pay for the majority of a brace, if not the entire amount of the cost. - This is another reason why you should visit an orthotist. O & P (orthotic & prosthetic) companies typically are used to submitting claims for people. This means that they can help you with submitting your claim and determining your benefits when it comes to insurance.

The Law of Attraction and Bad Luck

Your Success or Failure Lies Totally in Your Response to Life

Few talk about this, because the idea is that if you are doing the Law of Attraction correctly, you won't have bad luck or failure. This is just not so. Events may occur which at first are difficult and seem to be bad luck. Your future success, or failure, is in your response.

I once had a car accident (at 15 mph) on the first day of a vacation. At the time, I was working per diem and couldn't afford to miss a day of work, so it was luck that it happened on a vacation day. The most wonderful part of it was that the other parties insurance paid the whole bill (no deductible when the other guys' insurance pays) and we discovered a serious problem with our car that needed to be fixed anyway. Their insurance paid for a rental car at insurance company rates, which we extended for one day at that same low rate to take care of the mechanical fault that we needed to have fixed. I didn't miss a day of work because of the rental car.

Do you see how what seemed to be bad luck was a clever way for the Universe to make it possible for me to fix some wheel bearings that needed fixing anyway. If I hadn't fixed it, I could have had a serious accident at high speed.

I believe that my response to the accident -- one of trust in the Universe, although a little questioning about the reason -- was what set the tone for the events that followed.

Complaining Never Does the Slightest Good

Every week I hear people talk about reasonable gripes or complaints they had at work, and the reasonable things they said to their bosses, right before they got fired. If you are ever tempted to do this, HALT!

HALT is an AA acronym that stands for Hungry/Angry/Lonely/Tired. Women should probably add, pre-menstrual and make it PHALT. AA is warning their participants to STOP if they feel any of those feelings and not say what's on their mind. Often, when feeling stronger, you would hold your tongue.

Most bosses don't want to hear your complaints. Most bosses have their own problems and their own complaints. They want you to be the solution to their problems, and not someone who is adding to their problems. If you become another problem for your boss, you will probably not be rewarded, or "lucky".

Focusing on what makes you unhappy, will energize these elements in your life, and the Law of Attraction will respond to this energy with giving you more. Focus instead on what you want.

Gaining the Solution

So, how do you stand up for yourself at work or in a personal relationship using the Law of Attraction? You meditate and ask for a solution. Don't turn it over to someone else but find the solution yourself. Ask for it before you fall asleep and you either will dream a solution, or you will be given it in those hazy moments of first awakening. Remember also to ask that you receive a great night's sleep and awaken fully restored.

Take note also, that as a general policy, uni-lateral solutions don't work in a family, a job, or internationally, but multi-lateral solutions often work well. So, look for multi-lateral solutions whenever you are part of a group. Look for those win-win solutions, and you will always have "good luck."

However, in your own life, when thinking of your own personal goals and desires, a uni-lateral solution is called for. Don't be looking to others to give you the answer. This lack of trust in your intuition, your spirit, and your connection to the Universe will send a signal that can only result in "bad luck."

If something seems to be bad luck, and your attitude has been positive and trusting in the Universe, then your response to bad luck will always be, "I wonder how this will help me?" Or, you might ask, "What did I need to learn from this?"

The Universe loves you.

How Do Annuities Work? The Basics

How do annuities work?

During client meetings this question often comes up. Here are the basics on how annuities work. You will quickly see why they are such a popular investment.

Basically, annuities are a kind of investment account that is issued by an insurance company. The difference from other kinds of investments is that an annuity comes with a contract. Annuities work based on the contract where the rules regarding the annuity are listed in detail. Be sure to ask to see a copy, a specimen, of a contract before purchasing and read it over carefully.

From start to finish, here is the process of purchasing an annuity and how the annuity works when you need money out or decide to leave the money in to grow in value.

1. Choose a specific type of annuity. Annuities work differently and have many options to choose from. Work with your agent or broker and give them a complete picture of your entire financial situation so they can use their experience to help you choose.

2. Fill out the paperwork. When it is finished you can send in a check for the initial investment or you can fill out the transfer or rollover paperwork to move money from another account into the annuity. Your annuity contract will be issued when the initial investment is received and the insurance company is finished processing your paperwork.

3. Taxes, pay as you go or when you need money? Annuities work by growing your money tax deferred as long as the investment inside of your annuity performs well. For a fixed annuity you might be receiving an interest rate or a return based on a market index. For a variable annuity your funds are likely invested in a mutual fund like investment that can go up and down with the market. Tax deferral simply means that you do not pay taxes until you take money out of the investment.

4. How do annuities work in regards to investment length? Annuities will keep going until you decide that you don't want them anymore by taking all of your money out. Basically they will just keep going and you can easily take what you need out each year for living expenses. Just be careful of the surrender charges you read about in your contract and work around them. Some annuities work by having a renewal at certain time intervals. Look for the renewal period with fixed options. The length then is really more dependent on the surrender charge schedule. You will pay penalties if you decide to take all of your money out before the end of the surrender charge schedule.

5. What happens when you need to taking money out? Most insurance companies offer some form of free with drawl that is available every year. These can range from 3% to 10% and may include interest earned. You will likely pay taxes on the entire amount withdrawn but check with your CPA. Principal comes out last and you will not pay taxes on your principal if your account is not an IRA. The process is simple, fill out a form that tells the insurance company how much you need and they send it to you.

6. What happens if you pass on and still own the annuity? In the event that you were to pass on and still own the annuity you heirs would get their share of the annuity. Annuities work great to pass money on as they have beneficiaries like an IRA. You choose what goes where and the money avoids probate.

How do annuities work? In my experience annuities are the simplest investments to work with because they have specific rules that are completely written out in the annuity contract. There are also hundreds of options which make it possible to choose the best option for your exact situation. Be sure to read your contract for all of the specific details on how your annuity works or request a specimen contract if you are purchasing a new annuity.

Make Money With AdSense - The Importance of Proper Keyword Phrase Selection

Many marketers are trying to figure out how to make money with AdSense. Yet most of them struggle with it. Why? One major reason that almost all people who try to make money with AdSense is that they do not do adequate keyword research and subsequently either choose the wrong keyword phrases to target or don't target any keywords at all. Following this path is the fastest route to frustration and small profits. On the other hand, by taking the time to choose "good" keyword phrases, you will get more clicks on your AdSense ads. Not only that, but the average price that you'll make on those clicks will be 10 to 20 times higher.

Is keyword research really that important to making money with AdSense? Absolutely! You simply won't find success with AdSense if you create content and articles that are about broad, random topics in your niche. To make money with AdSense, you have to use laser-focus when it comes to keyword phrase selection.

The Top Three Characteristics To Look For In Keyword Phrases To Target:

1. High daily searches. If you aren't choosing specific keywords to target, then you could be unknowingly targeting keyword phrases that get very little daily searches. So even if you did a great job creating quality content about a certain topic in the niche that your site or blog is in, there just might not be many people looking for that information on a daily basis. A small amount of daily searches will result in very few people ever seeing your content (and your AdSense ads). So be sure to target keyword phrases that have a large number of daily searches.

2. Lower competition. Many marketers write content based around "obvious" topics. So they had a website about auto insurance, they would write content based around keyword phrases like "auto insurance quotes", "cheap auto insurance", and "best auto insurance." The problem with this is that just about everyone who has a website in this niche targets these obviously keywords first. Meaning, that there is a lot of results that will show up in Google for these keyword phrases, and chances that anyone will ever see your content and AdSense ads will be very slim. Use a reliable keyword research tool to find those keywords in your niche that have a lower amount of competing results. Targeting these keyword phrases, even if they have lower amounts of daily searches, gives you a much better chance of people actually reading your content and clicking on your AdSense ads.

3. Higher CPC values. The biggest frustration faced by many individuals who are trying to make money with AdSense is low click payouts. They do all this work to create decent content and bust their butts with marketing only to get $0.05 clicks. Generating 5 cent clicks won't lead to riches. So what can you do? Create content that targets keyword phrases that have high CPC values. "CPC" stands for "cost per click" and is the amount of money that an advertiser pays to get the top position in the ads displayed. This is not the amount of commission that you will get paid per click, but you can use it to get an estimation of how much you can make per click. Most quality keyword research tools can give you the CPC values. Generally, you can assume to make 10-25% of the CPC value. So if you create content around a keyword phrase that has a CPC value of $10, you should make $1.00 to $2.50. Now that's much better than nickel clicks, right?

If you want to know how to make money with AdSense, you need to place more of an emphasis on keyword phrase selection. When choosing keywords to target, you should look for ones that have decent daily search demand, low competition, and higher CPC values.

Basic Tips on Forex Hedging

What Is Forex Hedging?

The easiest way to understand hedging is to think of it as insurance. When you hedge, you are insuring yourself against a negative event. This does not means that once you hedge the negative event will not happen, but instead if it does happen the impact of the event is reduced. An example is like getting a car insurance.

With Forex hedging, you are essentially placing a bet in both directions of the market. You are placing a buy and a sell order on the currency pairs. This allows you to hedge your bet to reduce your risk in the Forex market and potentially profit from movement in either direction. This requires training and if done properly, it is a good skill to have as a Forex trader.

In Forex hedging, there are essentially a few types of hedging strategies

1) Buy and sell the same currency pair, same lot in the almost the same timing. After some time, one order will gain while the other will lose. When the winner run out of steam, take profit and wait for the losing trade to turn around. This strategy work well in a yo-yo kind of market trend.

Example: buy 1 lot EUR/USD at 1.3400 and sell 1 lot EUR/USD at 1.3397. If the price goes up to 1.3460 and we close the order to take 60 pips while the sell order has a drawdown of 63 pips. In such market condition, the rate will start to fall. If the rate fall to 1.3420 and you close the sell order with a loss of 23 pips. Overall we have gain 60 pips - 23 pips = 37 pips. Experience trader typically use technical analysis skills to decide their entry and exit points.

However such strategy is no longer allowed if you have a broker that adheres to National Futures Association (NFA) rules. If you sign up with a FOREX broker that is not in the NFA, you can still employ such hedging strategy in your account. For those that still wish to use hedging, there are a number of ways to do so.

2) Hedging with correlated pairs
Use currency pairs that have strong correlation. In other words, there are currencies that mirror each other as they move. The move can be directly or inversely proportional to each other. For example, if you look at charts of EUR/USD and USD/CHF pairs, you'll find very close similarity in the graph patterns. This means that traders can use this similarity in moves to try to reduce losses and built a hedging strategy that could combine these two currency pairs. Since EUR/USD and USD/CHF move inversely one can BUY both pairs. The result will be one order will gain profit, another will lose. Thus they will cancel each other. Hence, one can work out a profitable hedge strategy similar to item 1.

3) There are also other forms of hedging being employed, such as Hedging arbitrage - This technique involve getting 2 brokers. One charge interest and one do not. Buy from the broker that the currency pair that provides you rollover interest and sell from the broker that does not charge rollover interest. This way, you can gain the interest or SWAP that is credited to your account. Be careful not to get margin call, so managing the two accounts by transferring money from one account to another is crucial so that you have enough fund in both of them.

What are some of the pros and cons of Hedging?
Hedging can be very important when the market is highly volatile as it can be used to substantially reduce the risk levels. Hedge is also used to allow a trader to stay in a seemingly bad trade much longer, allowing for the market to correct back in the trader's desired direction. At the point that the hedging position is taken any existing loss is locked in, so if the trade never recovers, the trader will eventually need to take that loss. The good part is that you do not need to make that decision right away, thus give the market some room to move. If prices move back in your favour, the hedge position can be closed and the original trade now move in favour of your intended direction.

However, note that no strategy is fool proof and as such Forex hedging will not provide full coverage. Hedging will protect your investments to a certain degree, and when something bad occurs in the market, chances of you ending off better is higher than other traders who have opted not to hedge. When you decide to hedge, you must remember that it comes with a cost. You should make sure that the benefits you get from a hedge should be more than enough to make it worth your while. You should make sure the expense is justified. If it is not, then you should not hedge. The goal of hedging is mainly not to make large gains but instead it is used to protect your losses.

Conclusion
This article has briefly discussed the concept of Forex hedging and how it can be used. In short, Forex hedging is actually a protective strategy. It is typically not recommended for newbie. In manual trading, it is very important that you have a clear understanding of Forex hedging before you decide to use it as insurance. You need to ensure that you actually need it and the benefits you get from hedging are adequate enough to make it worth your while.

Types Of Fire Damage

Most fires accidents at home are caused by reasons that are easy to avert. There are no more effective ways to safeguard your home from fire than remaining alert to possible threats and taking precautions to ensure that such an accident does not occur. Though you cannot reverse the destruction, you can claim the damage amount-but only if the property and the goods and items inside are insured.

No one knows your property better than you do. The insurance agent will be well-versed in the laws and the technical processes involved in assessing the loss and filing for claims. But you are the best person to determine the damages and their true extent. So, while filing for an insurance claim you should be pro-active in going over the house and run through your belongings to assess the damages. Else, certain damages might go unidentified and you will you receive less compensation than you are liable to.

If you are aware of the types of fire damage, you can file for the appropriate insurance claim and also ensure that the renovation process is thorough. Generally, reparable fire damage can be classified into three categories. These are the following:

* There is some amount of smoke damage throughout the property and layers of soot cover extensive parts. These may be caused by a stove or a pot overheating and catching fire. The smoke that is thus produced gets charged electro-statically and clings to everything that comes on its path. Smoke from fire does not spare the walls and ceiling too.

* Damages are more severe if the fire manages to goes through the ceiling and come in contact with the trusses supporting the roof of the building. In some cases, the trusses may also get burned. In such instances, one or two rooms in the house, usually those in close proximity to the fire, may also be extensively damaged.

* In the third case, the interior of the house is affected extensively and the roof has been burned completely at many places. These are usually expensive to repair. Sometimes, fire may also harm the structure of the house and this may not be apparent readily. The damages need to be detected thoroughly before the renovation starts.

When in need of restoration and repair services to address fire damage- Atlanta and surrounding dwellers may visit premierdrying.com. The licensed IICRC certified fire damage repair specialists at Premier Drying are experienced and knowledgeable and can deal with almost any kind of fire damage.

How To Get A Face Lift On A Budget

Interested in getting a face lift? Many people are. As one of the most popular cosmetic procedures currently being performed in the United States, it's no wonder so many women feel it necessary to go under the knife in order to keep up. Perhaps you're looking for a little confidence boost, or trying to recapture some of that zesty glow from your 20's. Regardless of your reasoning, one thing is for certain; the procedure ain't cheap. Most insurance companies will likely deny coverage for the surgery, and if you're like most people, you probably don't have a large cash sum just lying about on the dresser. Thankfully, there are ways of diminishing the costs without compromising the quality of the procedure itself. Below, we will outline a few tips to help make your face lift a little more affordable.

Step 1 - While, yes... it is highly unlikely that your insurance cover your procedure, stranger things have happened. Don't miss out on an opportunity to drastically reduce your costs by skipping steps. Call your insurance company and find out exactly what your plan covers. Depending on the reason for the surgery, you may be able to obtain coverage and claim the procedure under your policy. Cases involving reconstructive surgery or medical issues due to facial deformities may be reason enough for your insurance to help you out.

Step 2 - Check out your options regarding financing. Most practices will offer monthly payment plans, allowing patients to pay over time, instead of all together. Speak with your doctor and find out what they can offer you. You may even want to shop rates at local banks and credit unions.

Step 3 - Another available option is a student program. Many hospitals provide training programs for residents, allowing patients to incur quite a bit of a discount. The procedure would be performed by a certified physician and supervised by a board certified plastic surgeon to ensure the best possible results.

Step 4 - Hop on a jet and skip town! We're headed out of country. Why not make a vacation out of the procedure and have it done in another country. Depending on where you look, you can find some amazing deals for real quality work. If you're going this route, be sure to do the research and make your travel plans well in advance. Keep in mind that you'll be required to stay wherever the face lift is performed for at least a few days into your recovery. Get in touch with your travel agent and find out if they have any recommendations.

Step 5 - And of course, the final tip is to save. While most people are all about the instant gratification, this course will help to save you money on financing or travel arrangements, while giving you time to really think about what you're doing. Take the opportunity to find the best cosmetic surgeon available to ensure the best possible results. Plus, it's always so much more gratifying when you really earn it.

Why You Should Have Hurricane Shutters On Your Home

The state of Delaware often experiences the direct effects of the landfall of North Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes, and sustains damage from the remnants of some Pacific storms. Heavy rainfall and high winds are common, as are riptides and heavy surf and flooding during tropical storms. At least 108 tropical storms or hurricanes have been recorded as affecting the state, including 21 which passed directly over them. Coastal Delaware is often hit by tropical storms and sustains damage.

And nowhere is this more true than the Rehoboth Beach area of Delaware. It's a popular vacation destination, and its seasonal population swells to over 25,000 in the city limits and thousands more in the surrounding area in the summer. Hurricane season is June 1st through November 30th, and this puts tourists and residents alike at risk.

When Hurricane Bonnie hit over the western Atlantic Ocean, the currents drowned one person and resulted in many lifeguard rescues at Rehoboth Beach. Coastal Delaware experienced the fringe effects of the storm, including beach erosion and high wind gusts.

If you live in the Rehoboth Beach area, you are well advised to add hurricane shutters to your home. High winds and heavy rain are common during the tropical storms and hurricanes, and the best protection for your home is hurricane shutters. Permanent hurricane shutters are an economical, convenient solution for home protection.

Hurricane shutters:

Are missile impact tested to withstand the debris thrown at high speed during the storm.

Are tested to withstand high winds, up to 150 miles per hour.

Protect you against the pressure changes that occur during the storm. Pressure changes can actually rip off a roof or tear down a whole wall, and when your windows or doors are breached, the sudden pressure changes can do devastating damage. Hurricane shutters keep this from happening, and keep you safe from the sudden pressure changes.

Protect you from the tornadoes often spawned by hurricanes and tropical storms, hurricane shutters safeguard your home, and protect you from these 'spin-offs' of the storm. Tornadoes can occur up to three days after a tropical storm or hurricane has passed, and shutters are one of the best protection against these devastating storm residue.

Can be closed in a matter of minutes when a storm is imminent. If you are putting up temporary shutters to cover your windows and doors, it can take hours, or even days to get them installed correctly. Permanent hurricane shutters can be closed all around your home in a matter of minutes, taking the worry out of your mind. You don't have to struggle or rush, and if you have Rolling shutters, you can close them with a flip of a switch. Boom, you're done, and your home is safe.

Can save you money on your home insurance. Most insurance companies will give you a break on your insurance if you install hurricane shutters. They make your home more secure, and this means insurance companies pay out less money. They pass these savings on to you in the form of lowered premiums.

Using The Strategy Behind Renting Shares To Earn An Easy Passive Income

Currently, many people in the USA and elsewhere are without any monthly earnings due to unemployment. Being out of a job does not have to mean loss of any earnings whatsoever. Some people continue to make money using the strategy behind renting shares even without a regular 9-to-5 job.

Due to the economic downturn, many people think that investing in American stock market is not a wise move. However, it is possible to earn monthly passive income easily by renting out shares. Similar to renting out a home or any other property, renting your shares to others gives you a wonderful chance to build an alternative revenue stream. Previously known as call options trading, renting out shares has a much lower risk compared to buying and selling shares or actual trading of shares.

Immaterial of whether the share price increases, remains the same or decreases slightly, you can enjoy a monthly passive income by renting out your shares to others. To rent out the shares, you can ask for a protected or writing call option when you purchase the shares. The protected option comes with an insurance policy to cover for losses due to a very bad drop in the share price. Some people may not buy the insurance policy.

Investors may simply keep the shares until the share price rises again. Generally, it is possible to earn around two to four percent of the share capital each month. With an insurance policy, you can enjoy a guarantee of seventy-five percent or so of the total capital. The writing call option or writing covered call does not come with any insurance policy. After buying the shares, the rental price and duration of rental is usually set, similar to renting out a house.

You can ask the assistance of a share broker or use the Auto Trader service for the rental price and duration setting. There are a few ways to earn money by renting out your shares. As mentioned earlier, it is possible to enjoy a passive rental income every month. If the company decides to give dividends to its shareholders, you get your portion of the dividend as well. In the event that the share price increases over the months, you can enjoy the gain in the capital.

To summarize, it is possible to earn monthly passive income easily by using the strategy of renting shares. With such an income, there is no need to worry about unemployment or loss of monthly earnings. Renting out shares is similar to renting out a house in a number of ways. Apart from getting monthly passive income, there is a chance to gain money through company dividends or increase in share price.

Breast Reconstruction: Reasons For The Surgery

Breast reconstruction, not sure if you need one? Consider whether you fall into any of the categories of women who tend to need it. You may be able to get it paid for by insurance, though you should check before expecting financial assistance.

You may wonder why breast reconstruction would be needed if augmentation already exists. After all, why would anyone need to change the appearance of their entire chest when they could just go with the less complicated implant surgery to increase the size? While just adding implants is more popular than completely reconstructing the breasts, there are a few cases in which this surgical procedure is necessary. Consider the most common reasons for getting breast reconstruction.

One of the most widespread reasons for breast reconstruction is to get back the feminine figure after a mastectomy due to cancer. Some women have to have one or both breasts removed when cancer is found in the area, but fortunately they can get back what they lost using this kind of surgery. In fact, it is usually paid for by insurance companies when it can be proved that it is medically necessary after a mastectomy.

A medical condition may be a good reason for breast reconstruction, but it is not the only one. Though it is rare, some women need it after getting into a car accident that results in part of their chest being damaged. In some cases, serious injuries can be fixed in the hospital right after the crash, but the affected area may never look the same, calling for aesthetic help. This is where plastic surgery comes in, as it can make the area look better than ever with a simple operation. If a car accident ruined the appearance of this part of your body, you may be able to get either your insurance company or the other driver's company to cover the cost of the operation.

Any other trauma to the chest may result in the need for breast reconstruction. You can have it done to either one or both breasts. While the point is to get back what you lost, the surgery does not have to result in the same cup size as you were before. This means that if you have always wanted a larger chest, this is the time to get implants in the size that you desire. As long as it does not cost the insurance company more money just to get larger implants, you can typically get the size and type you want. Talk to the person or company responsible for paying for the operation, as well as a plastic surgeon in your area, before you make any choices.

Your First Horse or Pony: Considerations Before Buying

Horses and ponies are living breathing creatures. If you are thinking of buying, then I think you need to be aware of the liabilities and the responsibilities before you make your decision. Always spend time educating yourself. It is important that you understand your potential pets needs and your own. Know exactly what you are letting yourself in for! Reading around the subject and making regular visits to various riding schools and horse stabling yards is a great start. Talk to the people that run them, meet the animals and their owners up front and personal. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions, they are very friendly folk in the most part. It's a 'club' you will be joining, there will always be advice on offer for you for when you get 'stuck', and you will!

There are some very nice calm animals out there, just like people. The likelihood is, however, that the animal you purchase will already have some habits, good or bad, that you may not see when 'trying' them out, and you must 'try' them. That's your first horse term out of the way!

Never buy an animal that you have not seen, ridden and handled (especially if it is a pony for a child). You want to avoid the animal with certain traits. The constant 'ears flat back', may mean that he/she is genuinely a grouch, or that he/she is in pain. The latter could mean you end up with huge vet bills trying to make your animal happy again.

Before going to see your prospective purchase, try and arrange for a "horsey person" to go with you. People with knowledge will know what to look for, and If your riding is not up to par, or your early confidence is lacking, they will be able to ride the animal for you.

Novice riders will need to find an animal that is calm and probably a little bit older 10-15 years old. A horse or pony that has been at his/her job 'for a while'. Animals of this age tend to be calmer, less 'skittish' and do not 'spook' at unusual circumstances. Cars in narrow lanes! Tractors! Drain covers, dogs etc. You will soon find your own horses foibles as you build your relationships later.

Visit some local yards where people keep their horses/ponies, this will give you an idea of the rules & regulations that are expected by the land owner. You may be asked to sign a contract. Make sure you read it well before signing. Most yards will ask for vaccination certificates and worming details too. More on this later.

It is always a good idea to find out about how much it will cost to insure your animal. This can be a mine field, but try to go with a firm that has a long history of horse/pony insurance, as you may not get the correct cover otherwise. You can contact, for example, the British Horse Society-American Horse Society for a complete list of insurers. They will also be able to give you a list of registered farriers because believe me you will need one. For a horse/pony, feet/hooves, if not looked after, can be terminal!

Not all horse owners insure their animals, but in my experience it is a very necessary thing. Vet bills can be huge and if you are unlucky enough to have an animal that cuts itself badly, or picks up a virus, at least you are covered (after excess of course!).

You will also be covered if your animal strays or damages any vehicles or property while you are out riding. If you do it for no other reason, do it for peace of mind.

Thinking about all the equipment that goes with looking after your new friend can be daunting. The list can be endless.

  • Grooming Brushes
  • Head collars & Lead reins
  • Buckets
  • Sponges & Cleaning cloths
  • First Aid Kit
  • Wheelbarrow
  • 'Fork' & shovel (Type depends on bedding)
  • Hay nets
  • Broom
  • Bridle
  • Bits
  • Saddle
  • Girths
  • Saddles Cloths
  • Tack cleaning Equipment (saddle soap cloths, leather oil)

These are just the minimum items and they will eat into your finances. Do not be tempted to buy equipment you know nothing about (just because it looks nice!). All equipment has a specific purpose and is designed to work in a specific way. Unless you are advised that you need it by a professional, don't purchase it. You can cause yourself more problems if you don't heed this warning, as some equipment can be quite harsh & painful in the wrong hands. You could make your animal resent being handled and ridden. You don't want that do you folks? If you buy your horse and the saddle comes with it, chances are that the saddle was made and fitted properly when it was purchased. If you need to buy a saddle, then you will need it to be fitted by a professional. Again, be prepared, saddles can be several thousands in price. Over the years, so many exceptional animals have been ruined because the saddles did not fit properly causing intense pain and discomfort, notwithstanding the changes in temperament the animal suffers. This impacts the owners too. As with humans, horses will compensate when they are in pain. Once the problem has been fixed it is often very hard to get rid of the habits they formed to protect themselves. We're after happy horses and owners so do your homework!

Ok, so if you're still with me here, it's time to think about bedding and feeding. You will need to ensure that you find a good supplier for your bedding and feed stuffs. The land owner may insist that you purchase bedding (straw, shavings etc.) from them direct. Ask the question before you commit to keeping your animal there, as this can sometimes work out quite costly, and you may find yourself paying over the odds.

The cheapest option would be straw, but try to buy direct from a farmer as they will usually offer reductions on a bulk buy (100-150 bails). You WILL need somewhere dry and large enough to stack it. Most tack rooms have limited space, so arrangements need to be made if this option is chosen. Hay and straw need to be stored with an adequate air flow, to prevent dust build up and mould.

Some animals cannot be kept on straw due to allergies (such as excessive dust). You will need to find the cheapest alternate option for you. There are various options out there. The following are quoted in UK pounds as a guide. Prices may vary season to season, depending on demand and harvests. Wood shavings (about £6-00 per bail - you will need about 6 bails to start off with and about 1-2 bails per week), 'medibed' a dust extracted fine bedding designed for allergy prone animals (about £8-00 per bail). Paper, cardboard, peat, etc. The list is quite large. It is worth noting here that some animals require stored hay to be damped or soaked before eating due to allergy/respiratory issues.

Feeding will be down to the individual animal, so is very hard for me to give too much advice on this, but if you find a good supplier use their knowledge.

More often than not, if you give an over view of how your animal behaves they will be able to suggest a feeding regime. Although ready mixed feeds are the thing of the day, please remember that your animal will also enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables such as carrots & apples as part of his / her balanced diet. Feeding is VERY dependent on whether animals have access to pasture. This varies throughout the seasons and needs to be adjusted ad hoc. Fresh water should ALWAYS be available whether 'turned out' to pasture or 'kept in' stables. More jargon!

You will also need to find a very good 'farrier'. Note that there is also a difference between a farrier and a 'blacksmith'. Some blacksmiths are farriers as well. Choose wisely. There is usually a farrier that already visits communal horse yards. Observe their work and make decisions based on local knowledge. Prices will vary, so it's advisable to contact a few before arranging a visit. Your animal will need to be seen every 6 - 8 weeks if you have shoes on your horse/pony. Even if you are lucky enough to have an animal with very strong feet, that don't need 'shoeing', you will still need to have their feet trimmed at regular intervals, as their hooves will constantly grow. A good farrier is worth their weight in gold, as they will be able to foresee problems before they progress and can advise you on your course of action.

You will also have to register your animal with a local vet. Ask around local yards. As with the farrier, a good vet is essential. You will need to inoculate your animal yearly, against tetanus and equine flu. It would also be a good idea to make sure you are also covered for tetanus via your doctor. Your horse will also need worming on a regular basis (every 3 months), all good yards will insist on this and will require proof that it has been done. Yards in their nature are dirty places, scratches and bumps (bites and kicks!) are common place, so make sure you have your own first aid kit available.

This is just an overview really. Don't be fooled, this is a very expensive hobby. It can be full of pitfalls. It can also be the most beautiful experience. Fresh air, exercise, outdoor experiences, and bonding with your horse and fellow man (ladies too!). It is a club and usually once you're in, you're hooked!

You really do need to think long and hard about taking on such a responsibility, so make sure you have the time to dedicate to it.

In the second article in this series, I will go into further details on the 'average' day's duty on the horse yard. Believe me, that will be shockingly interesting!

To your continued health and happiness

Steve Sandilands

Living Benefits to Choose From When Buying Variable Annuities

When you buy variable annuities, you are typically given a standard set of benefits that come with your contracts with the annuity provider. But to augment the income you will receive from these variable annuities, you also have the option to purchase living benefits.

As most of us know, variable annuities enable us to invest our money across different funds managed by the insurance provider. Doing so allows us to grow our money and enjoy more payoffs depending on market performance. But because markets fluctuate all the time, living benefits are meant to protect us against downward slides in the market.

Living benefits come in many forms. There are four types you can choose from, and these are:

1. Guaranteed minimum income benefit (GMIB). GMIB is basic protection for your investments in case they are negatively affected by market movements. If you have GMIB on your annuity, an interest rate is set on your money and the interest earnings are set aside for a certain period of time. Once this time period elapses, you are paid off of these interest earnings for the rest of your life even when the market has wiped out your original investment.

2. Guaranteed withdrawal benefit (GWB). A GWB allows you to withdraw a set percentage of your money from the insurance company within a certain number of years. With a GWB, you are sure to get your money back portion by portion (not as a lump sum, though) in case your investment fails. On the other hand, having a GWB on your annuity allows you to invest more money in case your investments do grow according to market movements.

3. Guaranteed account value (GAV). A GAV is similar to a GWB in that you can get your money back in its full value from the insurance company. With a GAV, however, you get your money in lump sum rather than in portions. The catch here is that you have to hold your annuity contract for a specified amount of time, usually five to ten years, and that you give the insurance company the authority to move your money across different accounts on your behalf. If the investments fail, you are given your money back in the amount you have originally invested or in its total value when you last stepped up your contract.

4. For-life benefits. With a for-life benefit, you get paid a certain percentage of your investment for as long as you live, regardless of how much value your account has at any given point in time. If your investment performs positively, you are given the chance to put more money into your annuity.

Living benefits are something you should look into when you buy your variable annuities. They will protect your investment and assure you that you will get your money back no matter how bad the economy is.

The Outlaw Biking Phenomenon

Biker culture has existed since man first welded the engine to a twin wheeled frame - and saw that it was good. But how have the ramifications of motorcycle culture impacted on our everyday lives? What of the outlaws, angels and 1-%-ers?

It is true that many motorcycle groups are built up of law abiding citizens. Most motorcycle organisations are recognised by various associations (such as AMA, the American Motorcycle Association). But deviants have existed outside of these boundaries for nigh-on a century and have splashed into pop culture, literature, films and other media. This is the "Outlaw Phenomenon".

In 1947, the AMA supposedly commented on the Hollister incident (a riot which occurred that year at a motorcyclist gathering in Hollister, USA). The AMA said that 99% of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens, and that the last percentage were merely outlaws.

This prompted the term "1-%-er". Bike gangs such as the Hells Angels and the Outlaw Motorcycle Club are groups of 1-%-ers, organised criminals and deviants who operate on the highways idolising freedom through velocity and gas-guzzling engines.

Unlike normal criminal groups, organised bike syndicates have their own websites, publicly display their affinity to their chosen group (usually by use of a tattoo or patches on clothing) and additionally maintain their own bylaws. These practices are not unrelated to those of sea-faring pirates and marauders during the 1500s and 1600s.

The criminal activities of bike gangs of the outlaw constitution (including blackmail, riding without motorcycle insurance, extortion, drug trafficking and even murder) became a subject of much study and enthusiasm by novelists and film writers. In 1979, George Miller and Byron Kennedy's "Mad Max" hit the cinema screens.

Mad Max explores a dystopian-regressive future where the only way to survive for many is to keep moving - and quickly! However; there is not enough fuel to go around and roaming gangs of bikers pillage the highways for precious gasoline. Although Max himself is not a biker, his 'wingman' known as Goose rides a motorcycle for the local law authority. The fact that his organisation clashes with a sinister bike gang when he helps to put a stop to one of their members (the 'Nightrider') ultimately causes his demise. The friction between biker organizations, clubs and groups is sociologically speaking a subject of much debate.

Outlaw motorcycle groups even have their own heroes and figureheads who are to some extent revered in pop-culture today. The Outlaw Motorcycle Group's Harry Joseph Bowman made the FBI's most wanted list during the 1990s for a number of crimes. Criminal activities here in the United Kingdom have been less severe.

Today most bikers are amicable, peaceful people who meet up for the simple pleasure of 'riding out'. Still, hopefully it has been interesting to dip into the outlaw phenomenon. Why not see if your group takes part in any practices or iconography which dates back to the age of the 1-%-ers?

Executive Protection Training: Machismo, Mirages, Myths and Money

A quick internet search using the words, "Executive Protection Training" reveals a number of courses that are available for about $250-$500 dollars a day. Add this to the air fare, meals and lodging and you have easily spent thousands of dollars to attend this type of training. The websites that offer this training look slick, with professional rotating pictures of limousines, private jets, yachts, limos and guys with guns. It is testosterone heaven. But wait.....there's more!

As you click through the tabs you see all the services that are offered: Personal Protection, Witness Protection, Dignitary Protection, Investigations of all types, and a multitude of courses that are offered; from Handgun Training to High Risk Environments. And, if you register for a course now, you get a 10% discount on your next outrageously priced course! With all of these great pictures and all these services that are offered, they must be legitimate and professional, right? Buyer, beware! Many of these websites are more like the Wizard of Oz than the Fantastic Four; because what lies behind the curtain is often a big disappointment. But you wouldn't know that from looking at the website.

What motivates a man or woman to give an unknown organization thousands of dollars to attend training for a position they will probably never have?

Machismo

The Spanish and Portuguese roots of this word have to do with masculinity being superior to femininity. Machismo, as commonly interpreted today in the United States is defined as a "strong or exaggerated sense of masculinity stressing attributes such as physical courage, virility and aggressiveness; an exaggerated sense of strength or toughness". This definition would describe the stereotypical perception many people have of the Executive Protection Agent or Bodyguard. In fact, many of these types of personalities are drawn to the profession. There are other reasons as well.

Author Bron B. Ingoldsby presented a paper at the Annual Meeting of the National Council on Family Relations in 1985 entitled; A Theory for the Development of Machismo. The abstract reads as follows: "With changes in sex role expectations in marriage, family researchers have begun to examine the concept of machismo. Two characteristics dominant in the study of machismo are aggressiveness and hyper-sexuality. A biological model of machismo asserts that males everywhere tend to be more aggressive than females, a sex difference which appears to have a genetic base. A modern theory of sociobiology offers another explanation for macho behavior. According to this theory, much of animal, and perhaps human, behavior is influenced by the drive for one's genes to reproduce themselves. A generally accepted psychological theory views machismo as an expression of an inferiority complex. Most research on machismo is restricted to the lower classes. Research from Mexico, Puerto Rico, England, and the United States suggests that lower class males suffer from job insecurity and compensate for their feelings of inferiority by exaggerating their masculinity and by subordinating women. Other studies point to distant father-son relationships as one factor leading to feelings of inferiority and to the development of machismo. Women may support machismo by being submissive, dependent, and passive. The combination of feeling inferior and acting superior is machismo, a trait that is repeated generation after generation. If men can be socialized toward male parental investment, the incidence of machismo may decline and the incidences of men feeling self-esteem and women feeling equal to men may rise".

From this pool of people, we would expect to see men and women enlisting in professions like Executive Protection because they are driven by an inferiority complex and overcompensate by entering a dangerous profession, which in turn helps them feel superior. I can affirmatively assert this is true. The bulk of my business is training, and I have probably trained several thousand students at this point in my career. One of the courses I teach is Executive Safety & Vulnerability. Albeit a small percentage, I have met my fair share of overcompensating students trying to deal with some psychological inadequacy. Does the word, "wannabe" sound familiar?

Why do Boys and Girls Prefer Different Toys, is an article published in Psychology Today. Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at LSE is credited. An excerpt from this article: "Throughout the world, boys and girls prefer to play with different types of toys. Boys typically like to play with cars and trucks, while girls typically choose to play with dolls. Why is this? A traditional sociological explanation is that boys and girls are socialized and encouraged to play with different types of toys by their parents, peers, and the "society." Growing scientific evidence suggests, however, that boys' and girls' toy preferences may have a biological origin. In 2002, Gerianne M. Alexander of Texas A&M University and Melissa Hines of City University in London stunned the scientific world by showing that vervet monkeys showed the same sex-typical toy preferences as humans. In an incredibly ingenious study, published in Evolution and Human Behavior, Alexander and Hines gave two stereotypically masculine toys (a ball and a police car), two stereotypically feminine toys (a soft doll and a cooking pot), and two neutral toys (a picture book and a stuffed dog) to 44 male and 44 female vervet monkeys. They then assessed the monkeys' preference for each toy by measuring how much time they spent with each. Their data demonstrated that male vervet monkeys showed significantly greater interest in the masculine toys, and the female vervet monkeys showed significantly greater interest in the feminine toys. The two sexes did not differ in their preference for the neutral toys.

In a forthcoming article in Hormones and Behavior, Janice M. Hassett, Erin R. Siebert, and Kim Wallen, of Emory University, replicate the sex preferences in toys among members of another primate species (rhesus monkeys). Their study shows that, when given a choice between stereotypically male "wheeled toys" (such as a wagon, a truck, and a car) and stereotypically female "plush toys" (such as Winnie the Pooh, Raggedy Ann, and a koala bear hand puppet), male rhesus monkeys show strong and significant preference for the masculine toys. Female rhesus monkeys show preference for the feminine toys, but the difference in their preference is not statistically significant".

This makes sense, since most of the attendees of Executive Protection Training are men. It is genetic.

Peter Langman, Ph.D., is Clinical Director at the national children's crisis charity KidsPeace and the author of Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. He wrote an article published in Psychology Today; The Career Aspiration of Shooters. From that article: "The pattern of thwarted careers in law enforcement and/or the military can be found among serial killers and school shooters, as well as at least one spree killer. What significance is there to this pattern of aspiration and failure? First, the shooters' interest in the military may have been their attempt to channel their fascination with weapons and violence into an acceptable outlet. Their career aspirations could also have been motivated by what Dr. Katherine Newman calls "the failure of manhood." For young men who had fragile identities, joining the military may have been seen as a way of establishing masculine identities for themselves. Their failures to achieve this goal may have had a devastating impact on them. Perhaps their armed rampages were an attempt to show the world just how capable they were of using weapons. They may have taken their rejections and failures as a personal assault on their masculinity, and thus felt driven to demonstrate to the world that they were powerful men indeed".

Kind of sounds like a recurring theme, doesn't it? Feeling inferior and acting superior equals machismo.

Gavin de Becker, in his terrific book, The Gift of Fear; "We trust security guards-you know, the employment pool that gave us the Son of Sam killer, the assassin of John Lennon, the Hillside Strangler, and more arsonists and rapists than you have time to read about. Has the security industry earned your confidence?"

LTC (RET) Dave Grossman's article; On Sheep, Wolves & Sheepdogs asserts the following:

• Most people are not violent. These are the sheep.

• Wolves are the bad guys and they prey on the sheep.

• The Sheepdog lives to protect the flock and confront the wolf.

Sheepdogs are people who run toward trouble, not away from it. They are the real deal, and thank God we have them. They are the good guys. They are also part of the pool that attends Executive Protection training. Some have disposable income. Some get the tuition for these schools paid by their employer. Not everyone is wired as a Sheepdog. Some people are, but lack training.

Ultimately we find a percentage of people attending these courses that are questionable. They are preparing to work in an industry where there are varying degrees of force authorized, including firearms. This is one reason why observers of the private security industry are critical of it. The industry recruits giant, human slabs of meat that cannot spell their names without help, and give them the professional title of Executive Protection Agent, Bodyguard or Security Guard.

How does the industry reduce the number of questionable people attending their training? The solution is for the vendors who provide training to tighten up their screening procedures, which will never happen. Tightening up screening procedures is not a great business model. Perhaps applicants should be required to submit to some type of psychological exam or personality testing. How about an oral interview on the phone? A background check? There are several instruments readily available which would provide the vendor some minimal information about the mental and emotional state of a prospective student. Society would be far better off, and so would the Security industry at large.

Why? Think about it. Statistically, it is much more likely that an Executive Protection Agent will use his mouth and brain rather than pulling out a firearm, much less pull the trigger. Yet, Executive Protection training traditionally focuses on physical skills, including firearms. Law Enforcement has paved the way in this respect. Law Enforcement requires their officers to qualify regularly with their firearms, but not their brains. There is really no effort made to determine if a student (or officer) possesses a sound mind. Security, Law Enforcement, Corrections and paramilitary organizations would benefit from more stringent screening.

Mirages

Perception is everything. Perception precedes thought. Thought precedes impulse. Impulse drives behavior. Smart marketing professionals know what neuromarketing is. In the context of a sales pitch, emotions come first. Those feelings can exert a powerful influence over the way we process any factual information that follows. In other words, if I can move your emotions, I can affect your decision-making. Look again at the pool of attendees; above. How can I move them emotionally toward attending one of my courses? Look at a few of these Executive Protection training websites and you will quickly determine how that is done.

The people who provide Executive Protection training are in the business to make money. Often, the instructors are talented ex-law enforcement, secret service and military people who specialize in various aspects of training. Many of them are the real deal. I know a fair share of instructors across the country, which comes about as a result of attending some of these schools and participating in training earlier in my career. Speaking at conferences and becoming a training vendor myself has given me ample opportunity to meet instructors and trainers. The nature of my career path has provided opportunity to meet, evaluate and discuss training with a great number of them.

Here is the problem: A quick glance at one of these Executive Protection website leaves the potential student with the perception that they are dealing with a large organization; including staff in many cities that are extremely well qualified and educated, possessing the necessary experience to provide them with "certified" training so they can enter the field of Executive Protection. The disappointing reality behind the smoke and mirrors is some guy sitting in his basement somewhere working on the website.

A certification is simply a set of standards that must be met, and these companies are free to set their own standards. There is no national board oversight on standards in the Executive Protection industry. But the word, "certification", affects your perception. I use that word with my company training, but I also publish the standards we use to drive certification, so a prospective student knows up front how we design our courses. I also have the people who work with me listed as Key Players, because they are. Each one of them lends something important to Assault Prevention and has for a long time. The photography I use on the website is a combination of stock photography and pictures taken from the work we perform. It is entirely up to me, the CEO, as to the degree of integrity and honesty I will require the website to reflect to you, the consumer.

In contrast, the website you look at for Executive Protection training may be a gross exaggeration. The certification may be close to meaningless. The organization may be one or a few people. The backgrounds of the instructors may be exaggerated. It might be nothing more than a mirage. The solution, of course, is for you, the prospective student, to complete your due diligence.

Myths & Money

Written about with some frequency by others, many prospective student's perception of the Executive Protection Agent comes from movies and the media. This leads them to believe that they will be rubbing shoulders rich and famous while getting paid six-figures a year. Bodyguard and Executive Protection schools know this and they take advantage of it by taking money from people who are willing to pay thousands of dollars in order to fulfill an imaginary fantasy of protecting someone important.

Let me be clear. There is some excellent training available by some well-qualified instructors. But there is also a lot of Executive Protection training founded by people who have had little or no experience around real-life threat or violence. I personally know a number of them. They have held positions in which they may have had the opportunity to protect a celebrity or two, or perhaps an executive. But, they have never been under the stress of a real confrontation. What you learn from them is something theoretical that they learned from someone else who has no real experience. Essentially, they are public relations and marketing wizards looking for an opportunistic way to capitalize on what is primarily a male fantasy.

The Real World

The need for Executive Protection is based on individual circumstances. Most Executive threat in the United States comes from extortion based on sexual infidelity, stalking or burglary; and in these cases the Executive's need for a good attorney and a home alarm system far outweighs their need for an Executive Protection Agent. Rarely do we hear about an Executive kidnapping or attack in the United States, and you would be hard-pressed to find examples of Executive Protections agents using any type of force, much less pulling a firearm or other weapon in the line-of-duty.

Celebrities have a greater need for protection in the United States than do most Executives, due to their high exposure to the public and the fact that their popularity is generated by a very large population. You read about Celebrities all the time. You see them on television, hear them on the radio and watch them in movies. Not so with most Executives. The greatest threat the Celebrity encounters is the enthusiastic fan, the stalker and the paparazzi. Rarely do we hear about a Celebrity kidnapping or attack in the United States. Celebrity Protection agents rarely use any type of force in the line-of-duty.

There is much hype and mystery that seems to surround this world of Executive Protection. Here are some quick facts about Executive Protection:

• Most graduates of Executive Protection schools never end up procuring a job in the Executive Protection field, because they are so few legitimate jobs available.

• Those who do find a legitimate job are quickly educated on the reality of long hours, a meager hourly rate and the realization that much of the work is more akin to that of an administrative assistant than a protection agent.

• There are approximately 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. There are approximately 1 million contract security officers in the United States. There are approximately 1 million guards working directly for United States corporations. Add some bodyguards and administrative people and you have a total of approximately 3 million people working under the banner of "protective service occupations" in the United States. The median salary for people in these occupations is $39,000 annually.

• There are approximately 2.2 million active duty and reserve people in the US Military.

• According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of security guards is expected to grow about 14% by 2018. That represents about 152,000 new positions. Demand for guards also will grow as private security firms increasingly perform duties-such as providing security at public events and in residential neighborhoods-that were formerly handled by police officers. Additionally, private security firms are expected to provide more protection to facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes.

• The few legitimate Executive Protection positions that are available are primarily filled by off duty law enforcement, retired law enforcement and secret service or retired military people with specialized expertise.

• The required training for a private security guard, private detective or protective agent is non-existent in some states and woefully inadequate and ineffective in most other states. The average civilian who lives in a state that allows the possession of a firearm has more statutory authority to defend themselves or others than most people employed in "protective service occupations", primarily due to company policies regarding use of force. The median salary for a security guard in the US is $29,000. That is approximately $13.00 an hour.

Does a security positions seem promising?

As a prospective Executive Protection Agent, considering the information presented here, where is your money best spent? Don't get me wrong. Many people who have a passion for something will overcome enormous odds to reach their dreams and goals, and you should be encouraged to do so. I simply suggest you use some common sense and make prudent decisions about how you get there.

A time-honored dilemma: It is relatively easy to find and attend training, and almost impossible to procure employment in this field without some experience. How do you get experience if no one will hire you because you have no experience?

My suggestion for a career path looks something like this:

• Procure a BA or BS in Criminal Justice or related field; Law, Psychology, Forensic Science or Homeland Security.

• If you enlist in the military, choose Military Police, Law Enforcement, Intelligence or Special Forces.

• Volunteer with a Fire Department, Police Department or Sheriff's Department Reserve. Many departments have civilian police academies. Attend one.

• Procure a part-time job in private security as a guard while attending school. These are entry level jobs but will be a welcome addition to your resume.

• Take a good self defense course or enroll in a certified martial arts program. Get a certificate upon completion. Employers like certificates.

• Learn handgun safety and handgun self defense. If you live in a carry state, procure your permit to carry.

• Learn to handle weapons beyond a firearm including pepper spray, kubaton & control instruments, impact weapons and handcuffs.

• Take a good, basic Executive Protection course to determine if this is something you wish to pursue. You do not need to spend thousands of dollars. You can take one here for $159.00. Upon completion of a basic course, decide if you want to invest thousands of dollars on more training.

• Go on-line and find organizations like the Anti Terrorism Accreditation Board, which, for a fee, will certify you as a Certified Anti-Terrorism Specialist upon completing their course.

• Lurk or join bodyguard and Executive Protection forums online. You can learn a lot from reading them.

Having accomplished these things, not only have you enhanced your ability to actually work in the field of Executive Protection, you also have transferable skills should you decide not to.

If these facts do not sway you about plunking down a few thousand dollars for training, or you are thinking about all the money you can make internationally by working for a private security firm, read this first: Private Military Contractors and US Grand Strategy by David Isenberg, who is an independent, Washington-D.C. based analyst and writer on military, foreign policy, national and international security issues and the author of Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq. Good luck with that overseas thing!

Blackwater (private security company) took such a hit over the debacle in Iraq that massive public relations were needed to try and re-establish their credibility; even to the point of changing the name of the company; now Xe. Private security contractors overseas are, at a minimum, controversial.

Traveling and working abroad carries another risk. Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion is abundant. The average amount paid for reported kidnap cases in 2005 was $62,000. The many unreported cases generate ransoms around several hundred to several thousand dollars. 48% of Kidnap for Ransom incidents occur in Latin America. According to Insurance Carrier AIG's Crisis Management Division in Philadelphia, "there are over 20,000 reported kidnap for ransom incidents annually, with 48 percent of them occurring in Latin America." 80% of kidnap for ransom cases are left unreported. Estimates are hard to come by, because sources vary wildly in their reporting methods and definitions. The annual incidence of reported and unreported kidnap for ransom cases are probably between 15,000 and 100,000 per year. Most of these kidnap victims are locals, not foreigners.

According to the US State Department, data shows that there are on average 20 to 25 hostage incidents involving Americans overseas each year, and an administration official said that few of them were politically motivated. Most involved requests for ransom.

We live in a global economy in which international travel is frequent and regular for many company employees. Unfortunately, these employees or their families can be targeted for kidnapping based on the perception of wealth that is available for ransom from the company or the family of the employer.

If you are interested in providing protection to people, you may want to explore this arena of kidnapping overseas. It appears by the numbers alone, there is opportunity. The US State Department, the FBI and Insurance companies like AIG who provide kidnap insurance, are good sources to study the topic more closely. Kidnap and Hostage incidents abroad are a problem, but since most of the victims are locals, not foreigners, if this were to become your specialty, you would probably have to move overseas.

Conclusion

There are a great many "Executive Protection" schools that are traditionally about a week long, held by legitimate instructors, and charging several thousand dollars for the experience. The skills taught at these courses focus on protecting an individual. The transference of these skills into paid employment in the Executive Protection field is difficult at best. If you do attend fee based training, consider courses similar to the Force Science Certification Course sponsored by The Force Science Institute or the Advanced Threat Assessment & Management Academy sponsored by Gavin De Becker & Associates. There is an essential need for critical thinking in the field of Executive Protection which goes far beyond control tactics, martial arts, firearms and positional drills in the field.

There is much the prospective Executive Protection agent can do that will give them transferable skills for a paid position in private security, the criminal justice system or a related profession.

Finally, if you do pursue a position in the Executive Protection field, it's all about networking. There are a lot of "mom and pop" security companies across the United States. There are good one and bad ones. There are professionals and there are hacks. They all have different niches. One may specialize in "high-end" hotels and bars, another in celebrity protection, or another in insurance fraud. The larger security companies tend to provide primarily uniform guards and plainclothes security. There are some companies who specialize in event security.

If you want to find a position in Executive Protection protecting a person, you will need to network heavily with others in the field. One other thing to consider; in many regional areas the "security company" community is small. Translation: if you develop a reputation that is less than excellent, a lot of people are going to hear about it quickly.

Bottom Line

Invest in a long term strategy and spend your money wisely.

Copyright 2010 © Terry Hipp