Why Identity Theft Insurance is so Important

According to a report by Internet security firm Kaspersky Lab, in what could be one of the largest bank heists in history, more than 100 banks and ATMs have been rigged so that thieves could steal up to $1 billion in cash.

Hackers from Russia, Ukraine, China and Europe were involved in the organized crime ring that was just recently exposed. The hackers installed spying software on bank computers, studied bank employee workflows so they could learn how to mimic their actions and used their knowledge to transfer money into bank accounts set up in other countries.

While the report did not name specific bank institutions, it stated that financial institutions in at least 30 countries were affected, including the United States.

We all know that identity theft is the act of taking someone’s personal information and using it to impersonate a victim, steal from bank accounts, establish phony insurance policies, open unauthorized credit cards or obtain unauthorized bank loans.

What many people don’t realize, though, is that 7% of all U.S. citizens will be victims of identity theft over the next 12 month resulting in over $50 billion in costs.  Identity theft is also a long, arduous process for victims as they try to repair their credit, erase erroneous collection accounts, and restore their lives.

Did you know that many homeowners insurance policies actually offer some form of identity theft as part of the policy?  You can find out more about this coverage, its cost, and provisions within the rest of the of article below.

If you would like to see if your policy includes identity theft coverage or would like to receive quotes on this coverage, please feel free to give our office a call.

Identity Theft Insurance

What is it? 

Some insurance companies now include coverage for identity theft as part of their homeowners insurance policy.  Others sell it as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners or renters insurance policy.

What does it cover? 

Identity theft insurance provides reimbursement to crime victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing credit reports. It generally covers expenses such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs, and sometimes attorney fees (with the prior consent of the insurer). Some companies also offer restoration or resolution services that will guide you through the process of recovering your identity.

What does it cost? 

Some insurance companies will include identity theft coverage for no additional cost.  However, most will charge anywhere from $25 to $100 annually for the additional insurance coverage.

Tips for Avoid Identity Theft

  • Keep the amount of personal information in your purse or wallet to the bare minimum. Avoid carrying additional credit cards, your social security card or passport unless absolutely necessary.
  • Always take credit card or ATM receipts. Don’t throw them into public trash containers, leave them on the counter or put them in your shopping bag where they can easily fall out or get stolen.
  • Do not give out personal information. Whether on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet, don’t give out any personal information unless you have initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with and that they have a secure line.
  • Proceed with caution when shopping online. Use only authenticated websites to conduct business online. Before submitting personal or financial information through a website, confirm the site is secure.
  • Make sure you have firewall, anti-spyware and anti-virus programs installed on your computer. These programs should always be up to date.
  • Monitor your accounts. Don’t rely on your credit card company or bank to alert you of suspicious activity.
  • Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. Make sure it’s accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized.
  • Shred any documents containing personal information such as credit card numbers, bank statements, charge receipts or credit card applications, before disposing of them.
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How to Properly Insure Jewelry

Jewelry-Email-Header

Insuring Jewelry

Knowing how much personal property coverage you have on your homeowners or renters policy is a good place to start with insuring jewelry. Most of the time, you’ll be covered up to a certain limit if it is stolen ($2,500 total). But with the average value of an engagement ring in the US costing around $5,000, homeowners insurance policies will most likely not cover the full value.

Since your standard policy most likely only covers part of your jewelry’s cost (and there’s usually no coverage for items that are lost or damaged), you may have to add additional coverage to insure the full cost should you ever need to replace your jewelry. This is done through a personal articles floater attached to your homeowners policy.

For high valued items, like engagement rings, the item is on a “schedule” and insured separately. Usually you can expect to pay around $1-2 per $100 of the item value. If the ring or piece of jewelry is brand new, the receipt from purchase can help determine the value.

Prior insurance carrier declarations are also good documentation to have on hand if your jewelry has been previously insured. It’s a good idea to get a professional written jewelry appraisal done to make sure that the item is being insured at its correct value. This is especially true if the jewelry is an heirloom or hasn’t recently been purchased.

Remember that the value of jewelry can change over time. It is important to have a recent appraisal done every 2-3 years and update your policy when the value of jewelry changes to ensure adequate coverage.

Another important factor is insuring your new jewelry in a timely fashion. You’ll want to make sure you’re covered even if something were to happen in the days after purchasing or receiving it as a gift.

Once you have jewelry insurance, keep your current appraisal, policy information, and any documentation about the piece in a safe place should you ever need to make a claim. It’s recommended you also take pictures of the pieces (which should be included in a professional written appraisal).
*The above information is to be used as guidance only, and should not be considered as definite in any particular case.  Every policy is different and you need to read through your policy and consult with your agent to best determine how your coverage will respond.  Within this article we simply cannot analyze every possible loss exposure and exception to the general guidelines above.

Guide: Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Child Swimming

Memorial Day is coming up fast, which typically indicates the “unofficial” beginning of summer. For many of us this means it’s time to lay out next to a pool, take in some sun, and just relax.

Not to put a damper on that, but did you know that according to The Pool Safety Resource drowning is still the second-leading cause of death for children under age 14?

So while we certainly hope you’re able to spend some time swimming and barbequing with the family, we want to make sure you’re aware of the safety precautions you should take in and around swimming pools.

We have compiled a list below of the top safety measures you can take from Pool Safely, American Academy of Pediatrics, and The Pool Safety Resource.

Pool Safety Tips:

  • It’s the most obvious, but by far the most important: NEVER LET YOUR CHILDREN SWIM ALONE.
  • Install a fence around the pool. The fence should be at least 4 feet high with a self-closing latch. If you are not using the pool, the gate should remain locked. (Remember that as a pool owner you’re responsible for anyone who comes onto your property and into your pool.)
  • Keep safety equipment like life rings, shepherd’s hooks, and a first-aid kit in plain-view from the pool.
  • Keep a phone with you by the pool at all times.
  • Take CPR and basic first-aid classes so you know how to respond in an emergency.
  • Remove all toys from the pool when you’re not using it so that kids aren’t tempted to reach for them.
  • Teach your children basic water safety tips including how to find the nearest wall and how to pull themselves out of a pool.
  • Secure the pool with a cover so that kids cannot access the pool when you’re done swimming. (Remember a pool cover should not be a substitute for a fence.)
  • Install a surface wave or underwater alarm.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool or spa first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool-bottom and surface-as well as the surrounding area.
  • Maintain the pool properly. Make sure all drains are functioning the way they should. Also, check the pool edges for loose tile or concrete.