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Monday, December 15, 2008

8 Tips on Homeowners Insurance

Health insurance and homeowners insurance … both are coverage we know we need but rarely take the time to understand. That is until we need it.
Hurricane IKE’s recent roll through our area sent a lot of Spring Texas homeowners scurrying for their policies. Unfortunately some homeowners were taught a painful financial lesson that they won’t soon forget.
8 things you should know about homeowners insurance?
1. Two Deductibles- Unlike automobile insurance, your homeowner’s insurance has two deductibles.
The first deductible is for wind/hail damage and it is a % of the rebuilding cost. The lowest percentage available is 1% with the deductibles of most insurance companies being 2% to 5%.
The second deductible is for “other perils” which would be fire, lightening, theft, and smoke damage. Insurance companies offer a fixed deductible with the lowest typically being $1,000.
2. Flood Insurance is separate- Flood insurance is NOT included in your homeowner’s insurance policy. The policy has to be purchased separately.
3. Flood insurance is not effective immediately - Don’t wait until hurricane season or until the weatherman says there is a hurricane on the way before securing flood insurance. Because insurance companies require you wait 30 days before your flood insurance policy becomes effective.
4. Does not cover replacement- If you have trees that fell and had to be removed, your homeowner’s insurance does not cover the cost of new trees to be planted in their place.
5. Food spoilage has a deductible - A lot of us experienced extensive power outages due to Hurricane IKE. By the time the power was restored, our refrigerated food had spoiled. Since the spoilage was caused by a wind / hail incident, our food spoilage was part of our wind/hail deductible.If food spoilage was the only damage we experienced, our spoilage would have to be more than 1% of our rebuilding cost before our insurance would kick in. Farmers has coverage on the Texas Family Home Plan of $500 for Food Spoilage with a $100 Ded.
6. Coverage not automatically adjusted - Review your policy annually and make the necessary adjustments to reflect the value of your home and its contents. Don’t put yourself in a position of being under insured. Adjust the value of your policy to match your home’s price appreciation.
7. Watch your renewal terms - Earlier this year, State Farm insurance changed their customers wind/hail deductible from 1% to 2%. There were some very unhappy homeowners who discovered through the claim process that their deductible had doubled. When your policy renewal shows up in the mail spend the time to review the deductibles. Don’t assume they are the same as last year.
8. Discounts available - Some insurance companies offer a “multi-line” discount if you purchase both home and auto insurance from them. Don’t forget to ask about discounts.
Don’t wait until the next hail storm or hurricane rolls through Houston, Texas before you review your homeowners policy. Instead make a commitment to yourself to find and review your policy before your policy teaches you some tough financial lessons.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Top 10 Most Stolen Cars

Most And Least Stolen Cars

1. Cadillac Escalade ESV
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2. Ford F-250 SuperCrew
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3. Cadillac Escalade
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4. Dodge Charger
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5. Ford F-350 SuperCrew
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See Cars 6-10 Here, List from

In the past few years, big, bold SUVs have become almost synonymous with the success of entertainment and sports stars. You make it big, you buy an Escalade. Or a Hummer.Hopefully, there's money left over to hire a full-time driver who can watch over the car, because these two vehicles are among the most likely to be stolen.

In Pictures: Top 10 Most Stolen Cars
The 2007 Cadillac Escalade ESV, a full-size luxury SUV, has the highest theft-claim frequency of any vehicle by a long shot. It's 15 times more likely to end up in the hands of thieves than the least-stolen car, the luxurious Mercedes E Class sedan, according to the theft-claim frequency report for 2005-07 model year cars, SUVs and light trucks, produced by the Highway Loss Data Institute (an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). The E Class, Buick Rainer and Subaru Forester have the lowest theft-claim frequency reports.

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"The Escalade has been the star of the show with car thieves for the better part of the decade," says Russ Rader, an IIHS spokesperson. "It has pop-culture appeal, and thieves are attracted to it."While the Escalade is the most coveted among thieves, the Hummer H2 and the Hummer H2 SUT (a sport utility truck with a small pickup bed in the rear compartment), are also highly desirable--and among the top 10 vehicles with the highest theft claim frequencies. Given a choice between a Hummer and a small car like the Ford Focus or a wagon like the Volvo V70, a thief is eight times more likely to go for the SUV.Behind the NumbersTo generate lists of the most- and least-stolen cars, the IIHS annually reviews insurance-claim reports to determine theft-frequency rates based on the number of claims filed for every 1,000 vehicles insured each year. The 2008 report, released in October, only includes 2005, 2006 and 2007 model-year cars, light trucks and SUVs, with the exception of the Cadillac Escalades (only the 2007 model is included because it was redesigned for that model year) and the Dodge Charger (only the 2006 and 2007 models are included since it was not available in the 2005 model year). Based on the claims filed, the IIHS also calculates the average loss payment--the amount paid to the consumer by the insurance company--made for each claim filed.

Top 10 Least Stolen Cars
Model Overview
1. Mercedes E Class
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2. Buick Rainier
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3. Subaru Forester
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4. Buick Terraza
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5. Volkswagon New Beetle
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See Cars 6-10 Here, List from

Although there are plenty of sedans and smaller models that are attractive to thieves, most of the vehicles comprising the list of the top 10 most-stolen cars are big trucks and SUVs.There are many reasons why thieves choose popular, large vehicles over everyday family cars, but one is accessibility, says Rader. "If you've got a typical family sedan ... it is most likely spending the night in a suburban garage."Desirability, however, is a big factor. The Escalade (11.3 claims per 1,000) and its slightly larger sibling, the Escalade ESV, are likely popular among thieves, says Rader, for the cars' expensive parts and accessories. Escalade owners are known to add premium audio equipment, flashy rims, extra chrome and interior accessories as well. That might explain why the average claim loss paid for a stolen Escalade is $14,657 and $13,060 for the ESV. The average loss payment, across all vehicles, is only $9,396.Thieves are also attracted to a vehicle's cargo. The Ford F-250 and F-350 SuperCrew pickups have open beds that may include expensive equipment or tools that are just as appealing to thieves as the truck itself. The average loss payment claim for these vehicles are among the highest ($19,250 and $20,138, respectively), which may also include claims for whatever equipment or cargo these trucks may have been holding at the time they were stolen.Adding DeterrentsCadillac recognizes that the appeal to thieves "is an unfortunate side effect of the desirability" of the Escalade, but says it is doing its part to make the vehicle harder to steal, according to a Cadillac spokesperson. For the 2009 model year, Cadillac added a theft-deterrent feature through General Motors' OnStar communication system. When an Escalade or Hummer is reported stolen, OnStar will remotely shut off the vehicle's power, making it virtually impossible for anyone to drive it.But reporting a vehicle stolen needs to happen quickly, since a thief wants to offload it quickly--either whole or as parts. The Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit organization, estimates a car is stolen every 24 minutes.

In Pictures: Top 10 Least Stolen Cars
The best deterrent of all, however, is buying the kind of car that thieves tend not to steal, especially something like the Volvo V70 (the claim frequency is only 0.8 out of 1,000 per insured vehicle year). Nevertheless, if the V70 or any other car suddenly were to become attractive to thieves, auto experts say there is relatively little that a car owner can do to stop them. If professional thieves want a certain kind of car badly enough, they'll go to just about any lengths to get it."If a thief wants your car, they will load it on a flatbed," says Rader. They will either strip it for parts or head for coastal borders "where it will end up on a boat and be exported overseas."