Top 10 Items Thieves Are Looking For

Adding collectibles, valuables and family heirlooms to your home insurance policy could be more important now than it has been in the past.  Don’t assume that just because you have an insurance policy on your home that everything is automatically and fully covered.  A typical policy may fall short of what you need to fully cover your high valued possessions so you need to make sure that your policy is such that should anything be stolen, your policy allows for you to get paid the full value of what was taken.  But, a homeowners’ policy does not cover flood damage (you need a separate flood policy) and most likely does not protect against earthquakes and accidental damage. It is important to know the top 10 items thieves are looking for.

Some people may not feel as if they are at risk of being robbed, but if you have ever watched movies or television shows depicting thieves as interested in only cars and cold hard cash then Hollywood either chooses to not reflect reality or they are unaware of the new trend.  Many of the FBI’s files are filled with cases of people having reported stolen items such as militaria, moon rocks and stolen art collections so its important that you know the top 10 items thieves are looking for.

Earlier this year in March, a Manhattan man had charges filed against him by the FBI.  He allegedly planned and executed the removal of historical documents from multiple museums and then sold them to make a profit.  Unfortunately, he is not alone in his efforts.  The FBI says that burglary has become a huge problem.  In fact, there was an estimated $4.6 billion in stolen property in 2010 alone.

Much of what is being taken are stolen collectibles.  From the burglaries that are reported, almost 74% occur on residential properties.  The top items they look for include jewelry, collectibles, electronics, antiques, rare items, and art.

The list of the top 10 thieves look for.

1. Antiques: These make the top of the list because they can be very hard to trace yet easy to turn around and sell.  And, some thieves will go to great lengths.  One thief stole an antique weather vane, worth over $10,000, from a couple’s roof and left a tin reproduction in its place.

2. Sports Cards: Cards from baseball and football collections are targeted very much like antiques.  Cards that are hardest to sell without attracting attention are very rare cards owned by active collectors that attend shows and/or regularly communicate with other collectors.

3. Coin Collections: These are relatively easy to steal and can be easy to sell.  Part of their appeal is the rise in the price of gold and silver.  But, some won’t know the value of what they stole.  A collection worth several thousand dollars was stolen (most of it eventually returned to the owner) but the thieves put the coins into a coin counter and only got $450.

4. Crystal and Glass: This would include items like stained glass items, crystal goblets and depression glass.

5. Die-cast Models: There is a big market for model cars and thieves have been taking notice.

6. Dolls, Stuffed Animals and Doll Houses: It may sound surprising but something like a collection of Barbie dolls could be at risk.  One victim, a collector of 5,000 Barbies, had a value of $1,000,000 in 1992 when the collection was taken.  They were lucky and their collection was returned but that was maybe due to the large number of Barbies.

7. Entertainment, Media, Movie, and Record Collections: In March of this year, CBS had posters stolen from them and their declared value was $450,000.

8. Figurines: These can be pretty as well as valuable.  One woman was sentenced to a full year in jail for having stolen Steuben Crystal glass figurines from a local residence.  The value of the items was more than $15,000.

9. Guns and Fishing Gear: Thieves will go after guns.  One example is a dealer of firearms that was on his way home after a gun show.  He had more than $200,000 of merchandise in his truck which was stolen from him while he was inside a restaurant.

10. Military Gear and Historic Collections: Anything that has historic significance can be at risk.  One case is the 1997 theft of the Civil War flag from the Indiana War Memorial Museum.  It took ten years but the flag was eventually returned.  A dealer in antiquities happened to visit a liquidation sale, saw the $50,000 flag and notified the FBI.

It’s likely that a burglar may still take your car and/or any readily available cash but please be aware that they could be looking for more than just that.  Please call us at 305-270-2100 and speak with one of our underwriters to find out your options for protecting your high valued possessions.  When it comes to your valuables, it’s never too soon to make sure that you’re protected from a potential loss.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Reasons to Buy Car Insurance

Buying your first car is always a happy occasion. But if you thought that your job is done after buying the car, you are quite wrong. Immediately after buying a car, you must think of getting auto insurance. There are many reasons to buy car insurance. Car insurance is your car’s protection against any financial loss. It is an agreement between you and the insurance company that while you pay the premiums on time, they pay for all your losses, as mentioned in the policy.

Though getting car insurance should be on any car owner’s do-to-list, unfortunately not many find it important. If you are still wondering why your car needs to be insured, here are a few reasons to buy car insurance.

In case your car meets with an accident or it gets stolen, the car insurance coverage gives you all the money you need to repair or fix it.

If during an accident, you or any of the passengers gets injured, the insurance covers the medical costs for you. It must be remembered that medical costs tend to get very expensive.

Not only is an insurance a prudent financial decision, but it is also mandatory in several states.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Renting Out Your Home: Issues

If you rent out your home for a few days or part of your home permanently, the majority of your Miami home insurance policy is most likely intact.  But what if you move out, keep the house and rent it out?  In that scenario it’s extremely likely you no longer have any liability coverage, but if the house burns down… is there still coverage?

When a homeowner uses a building on their property, other than the home, for business there is no direct property damage coverage yet the same is not true if the business is run out of the home.  There isn’t any liability coverage but there is coverage for direct property damage.  If that’s the case, then could the same thing be applied to renting out your home?

And what about those that temporarily rent their home while trying to sell it?  Certain losses, such as frozen/bursting pipes and glass breakage, may not be covered in homes considered vacant or unoccupied.

One example involves an agent concerned for an insured.  They had written an HO-3 (a type of homeowner’s) policy and later the insured moved but permanently rented out the house.  The agent was unsure if claims were covered under their policy and wondered what could have happened to the insured if this information had not been shared with him.

The answer is that there is no liability coverage.  Their policy only offers liability coverage for renting out your home occasionally (ex: once per year during the Daytona 500 weekend) and partial rentals, such as one room of your home.  But, when it came to direct property damage, the agent had doubts that there was any coverage for it for several reasons.
1. Perils Insured Against’s grant of coverage says “We cover risk of direct loss to property in Coverage A…”
2. The policy defined Coverage A as “We cover the dwelling on the ‘residence premises’…” [I added emphasis]
3. The policy’s Definitions section has “residence premises” defined as “The one family dwelling… where ‘you’ reside [added emphasis] and which is shown as the residence premises in the declarations…”  ‘You’ refers to the individual(s) listed as a named insured on the policy.
4. So, with the insured out of the house, the rented home isn’t a “residence premises” and the dwelling isn’t on a “residence premises” so coverage does not exist.

It is somewhat unknown if this is what the policy intends or if it is just the result of a literal reading of the policy.

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the definition of the word “residence” includes “Personal presence at some place of abode with no present intention of definite and early removal and with purpose to remain for an undetermined period, not infrequently, but not necessarily combined with design to stay permanently. Residence implies something more than mere physical presence and something less than domicile”.

Where it says “no present intention of definite and early removal”, does that mean residence ends when you decide you want to move?  Of course not.  But, in this example, the home is no longer the domicile and, therefore, no longer the residence.

Black’s Law Dictionary also contains a definition for “reside” (the word the policy uses) which is “Live, dwell, abide, sojourn, stay, remain, lodge… to dwell permanently or continuously…”  Things are not so in this particular situation.

When it comes to cases brought to court, the decisions don’t all go the same way.  Some cases that made a decision based on a literal reading of the policy are: Bryan v. United States Fire Ins. Co. (Texas, 1970); Allstate Ins. Co. v. Goldwater (Michigan, 1987); Shepard v. Keystone (Maryland, 1990); and Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co. v. Kephart (Georgia, 1993).

The Georgia Farm case was interesting.  The wife was the named insured but there was a divorce and she moved out.  The divorce was finalized and the ex-husband continued to live in the dwelling.  But under the policy’s terms, “you” was no longer residing there because the man is no longer a resident spouse of his ex-wife who is the named insured.

On the flip side, cases that did not go by the literal reading but ruled that there was coverage are: O’Neil v. Buffalo Fire Ins. Co. (New York, 1849); German Ins. Co. v. Russell (Kansas, 1902); Reid v. Hardware Mutual Ins. Co. (South Carolina, 1969); and Farmers Ins. Co. v. Trutanick (Oregon, 1993).  In this second group of cases, it was decided that there was coverage because phrases like “where you reside” are more of a description instead of a continuing warranty of occupancy.

In the end, it would seem that this issue is not resolved and could go either way should something unforeseen happen to the dwelling or its inhabitants.  If somebody decides to move out of their home and rent it to another, the best move may be to switch the policy from a home insurance policy to a dwelling fire policy.

If you have any questions about switching policies or what coverage you may or may not have if you permanently rent out the dwelling listed on your homeowner’s policy, please give us a call at 305-270-2100.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Texting And Driving is Illegal In Florida

On October 1, 2013, Florida became the 41st state to ban texting while driving, which is distracting enough to be responsible for 18% of fatalities involving a vehicle.  Due to the new ban anyone caught texting and driving may have greater financial consequences because they will be charged with 2 moving violations and, as a result, their auto insurance premium may increase.

4 of the 41 states prohibiting texting and driving have a law that makes it a secondary offense, meaning that law enforcement has to also bare witness to a different traffic infarction.  A driver pulled over for violating another traffic law and also seen texting on their cell phone, may end up with more than one ticket: the first one for the traffic violation and the second for texting.

Moving violations have varying degrees of severity and each one has a number of points.  The lowest amount of points is 3 while the highest is 6 points.  The first time a driver is caught texting and driving it counts against them as a nonmoving violation with a $30 penalty, not counting any court fees.  If there is a second occurrence of driving and texting within 5 years it is seen as a moving violation and 3 points are put on their driver’s license.  (Note: 12 points in 1 year gets a license suspended for 30 days, 24 points in 36 months will get a license suspended for a full year.)

Lynne McChristian, a representative in Florida for I.I.I. (Insurance Information Institute) says that, “Drivers who break traffic laws get ticketed for things like speeding, running red lights and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—and now texting while driving is also illegal.  It’s a cost that is easily controlled by putting the phone down, focusing on driving and following the intent of the law, which is to save lives, prevent crashes and make roads safer.”

On top of prohibiting texting and driving, the new ban puts 6 points on a driver’s license for an accident that is a direct result of using one’s cell phone while driving.  In addition, if a driver is inside a school safety zone and is caught in a moving violation, illegal use of their mobile phone will result in 2 points being added to their driver’s license plus any points from the moving violation.

A government website dedicated to distracted driving information and how to avoid it said that drivers that text while driving are at a much greater risk of getting into a car crash.  According to McChristian, “Anything that test your mind off driving, even for a few seconds, can certainly have deadly consequences.  Thinking ahead about financial consequence may be added incentive for driving to put the phone down and keep both eyes on the road.”

Here are 10 tips to avoid getting distracted while driving
1. Turn the phone off or turn the volume all the way down before getting in your vehicle.  You could also place it somewhere, like the glove box, to remove easy access to the device.
2. Use a recorded message saying you are driving and will call them back when you are not driving, or sign up for a service with a feature that will do the same.
3. If you are driving and you need to make a call that can’t wait, safely pull off the road and then make the call.
4. If there are passengers in your car, ask them to please make a call for you or respond to a received text.
5. Please refrain from texting, using the Internet or reading e-mail on your phone while driving.  Even using voice-to-text comes with its share of risks.
6. Stay up-to-date with local and state laws before getting behind the wheel.  Talking on a cell phone may also be prohibited in your state or a state where you may be vacationing.
7. Should you need to use a GPS device, please provide your destination before you start driving.  Or, if you will be using a map or written directions, familiarize yourself with them ahead of time.  Unless you have someone with you in the car for help, please pull off the road if you need to check your GPS or map/directions.
8. Pets can be a distraction so make sure they are secured in your vehicle.
9. In the event that you have kids with you and there is a situation you need to address, please pull over first.
10. Trying to do more than just driving while behind the wheel is not safe.  Please refrain from drinking, grooming, eating, smoking, reading, and anything else that takes your full attention away from the road.

Whether speaking with a friend, family member or business client, a lot of people may be on the phone for a good portion of the day.  With the continued (and growing) use of the phone, that time has spilled over into the time we are behind the wheel of a car.  It is not easy to admit it, but no individual can be on the phone and not be dividing their attention between driving and the subject of their conversation.  There are so many accidents and fatalities on the road that we ask you to please be as safe as possible while on the road.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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Setting Your Insurance Resolutions

It’s not just your weight or your budget that you might want to make changes to in the New Year. Your thoughts about insurance and the way you see it fitting into your life might be good candidates for change as well. Here are a few tips to help guide you toward setting the right insurance resolutions:

  • Stop thinking minimums: Some people buy insurance just to keep their state and lenders happy. Buying just the minimum amount of insurance necessary to comply with lenders and regulators can leave you and your family exposed to unnecessary financial risks.
  • Think about the legacy you want to create: Life Insurance is about more than replacing an income for your family; it’s about finding the means to create the legacy you want to leave behind. Before you can do that, you need to know what your ideal legacy is.
  • Stay on the lookout for ‘soft’ spots: While it’s a good idea to do an insurance review annually, it’s an even better idea to identify any areas where your coverage falls short throughout the year. By keeping your eyes peeled and thinking about risk, exposure and protection on a more frequent basis, you might identify these situations more often and prevent coverage shortfalls from causing you financial harm.
  • Have your valuables assessed: If you chose limits by estimating the value of some of your higher-end antiques, art and jewelry, then this year resolve to actually get these items assessed by a professional. Not only can this help your legacy planning efforts but it will also ensure that your home insurance limits are adequate.
  • Read your policies: Reading your insurance policy document is the best way to get educated about what it does and does not cover. Not only will this help you get the most out of your policy but it may also help you determine any shortfalls that could occur and plan for them before they do.
  • Work with your agent on an insurance review: If you haven’t already planned to do an in-depth insurance review with your agent, your first resolution can be to do so.

Insurance is a vital aspect of your family’s financial plan. Don’t relegate it to the back corners of your mind throughout the year.  Instead, integrate it into your daily life so that you can make sure you get as much out of it as you need to. For more tips or to make changes in your policies, give us a call at 305-270-2100.

At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919.  We would very much like to have you as one of our customers.  Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.

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