Today, I’m pleased to report, that I picked my car up from the body shop, $5K worth of damage repaired. When the window shattered the glass went everywhere, including into my leather seat and door panel, necessitating replacement and even inside the seat belt locking mechanism which also had to be replaced.
While my credit card replacements have arrived, I’m still waiting on the checks from the insurance carrier. My passport replacement is in hand, my driver’s license still optimistically hoped for. (It not in hand by Monday, I’ll use the passport to get one in person. Kind of scary to think an international travel document is easier to obtain than a domestic driver’s license.)
HANDY TIP #1: Know your deductibles. I got hit with two deductibles, one for the damage to my car and a second one for the theft of items which fell under my homeowners policy. (Bet you didn’t realize that. Two policies, two deductibles, all out of pocket for me.)
HANDY TIP #2: Know the limitations in your policy per item. For example, on my insurance policy there is a limit of $200 for stolen cash. This was fine since I’d only carried $25 cash, but not great when they added in the gift cards that I carried, topping that $200. My jewelry limit is $1K, that won’t go far if you have an engagement ring, watch, or wedding band in your purse. (Hey, when we ladies go to the nail salon, we take our rings and watches off!)
Based on my recent experience (you can read about it here) with my car break in and purse theft, I’ve got some powerful points you don’t want to miss. These are simple and won’t take you more than 30 minutes to act on immediately. Please don’t wait, life will get in the way. Years ago I had all of this (well, almost) in place but as time went on, I never needed it, so failed to update. That blunder cost me days of time last week putting my identity and credit back together.
- Copy not only the front of all of your credit cards, but the back as well. Stash these copies in a fireproof safe at your home or office.
- Copy the front and back of your driver’s license in color. Stash this copy in your fireproof safe at your home or office.
- Copy your passport, open with your picture page. Stash this copy in your fireproof safe at your home or office.
- Maintain a copy of your birth certificate on file. (It can take three weeks or longer to obtain if you don’t have it.)
- Do not keep your social security card in your wallet, keep it at home.
- Sign up for a trusted identity theft prevention service like Life Lock. They will monitor your name online, particularly, and alert you of any potentially fraudulent activity. They also provide up to date credit score reports so you can monitor all activity.
- Reconcile your credit card statements against actual charges made. It may sound like a hassle, but you may be surprised by charges you don’t recognize, and duplicate charges that have occurred. It is much easier to fix these when you catch them in a timely fashion.
- Check your credit score at least annually if not quarterly to ensure nothing is amiss. It can take 90 days or more to correct errors and resolve disputes.
- Put a Google Alert on your name and variations thereof. I don’t have a middle name so my name is simple to monitor. It is more complicated if you have a middle name and initial. You can set the alert up to be daily or weekly.
- Keep important papers including your lease or mortgage agreement, your insurance policies, school transcripts and diplomas (yes, really from High School and College), voter registration card, work identification card, union card (if applies) in a fireproof safe at your home or office.
By the way, a fireproof safe can be portable (not sure that’s great as if you are ever broken into, the thief can walk out with the whole damn thing!) The important bit is that it is quick access and fireproof (which doesn’t mean moisture proof as I had one years ago and everything inside had mold on it. I’d kept it in my garage in Atlanta weather, no HVAC in there.)
If you prefer, you can keep the papers, copies and all in a file in your office or at home. I just believe in being extra careful. Life throws curve balls and you want to be ready to hit them out of the park instead of getting benched by them.