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To keep your home safe, follow these preventive measures:
- Keep your home well lit. Mount exterior lights out of reach in your yard or on your house. Put indoor lights on a timer.
- Make it time-consuming to break into your home. Keep doors and windows securely locked. Install dead-bolts on all exterior doors.
- Make it noisy to break into your home. Invest in a burglar alarm – over 90 percent of burglars say they would avoid a home with an alarm. The most effective alarm rings at an outside service, which alerts the police, fire or other emergency service.
- Make sure you have strong doors. The best lock will not deter a burglar if it is installed in a weak door.
- Keep shrubbery trimmed. The landscape of your home should not provide a burglary-friendly environment. Shrubbery should be kept below window level so thieves can not hide behind them.
- Turn off your computer and disconnect it from the internet. If you save personal information in your computer, make sure it is difficult to access. You don’t want a hacker at work while you are on vacation.
- Keep valuables under lock and key and well hidden. When possible, do not leave personal documents in your desk at home – burglars know to look for them there. Put critical documents in a lock box somewhere else in the house. Also, keep copies of important documents at another location – a relative’s home for example, for quick access in case you need to report identity theft. Expensive jewelry should also be hidden in another room besides the bedroom.
If you plan on traveling out of town, follow these additional steps:
- Have mail and packages picked up, forwarded or held by the post office. Stop newspaper deliveries and ask a neighbor to pick-up “throw-away” circulars.
- Leave blinds or curtains open in their usual position. Make it appear that you are at home.
- Ask a neighbor for help. Don’t tell people you don’t know and trust that you are going away. Instead, ask a neighbor you trust to keep an eye on your home while you are away.
Theft of personal possessions and damage to the home caused by a break-in is covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy. If you have replacement cost coverage it will replace a stolen item without deducting for depreciation. Actual cash value coverage will pay only what the stolen item is worth today. With replacement cost, which is only about 10 percent more than actual cash value, damaged property is replaced without deducting for depreciation.
Most insurance companies provide discounts to policyholders who invest in home security. If you install dead-bolt locks on your exterior doors, you can obtain a discount of two to five percent. A sophisticated alarm system could result in an insurance discount between 15 to 20 percent.
A guy named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night. His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing.
Bobs wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dads eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?”
Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in.
Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression.
Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums.
Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938. Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined a make one – a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animals story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope.
Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.
Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.
But the story doesn’t end there either. Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.” The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.
The creator of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” passed away at the age of 71 in 1976.
Rudolph himself turns 72 in January 2011.
There are many factors that influence the price you pay for auto insurance. The average American driver spends about $850 a year. Your premium may be higher or lower, depending on:
- Your driving record.
The better your record, the lower your premium. If you’ve had accidents or serious traffic violations, you will pay more than if you have a clean driving record. You may also pay more if you haven’t been insured for a number of years.
- The number of miles you drive each year.
The more miles you drive, the more chance for accidents. If you drive a lower than average number of miles per year, less than 10,000, you will pay less. For instance, some companies will give discounts to policyholders who carpool.
- Where you live.
Insurance companies look at local trends, such as the number of accidents, car thefts and lawsuits, as well as the cost of medical care and car repair.
- Your age.
In general, mature drivers have fewer accidents than less experienced drivers, particularly teenagers. So insurers generally charge more if teenagers or young people below age 25 drive your car.
- The car you drive.
Some cars cost more to insure than others. Variables include the likelihood of theft, the cost of the car, the cost of repairs, and the overall safety record of the car.
- Your Credit.
For many insurers, credit-based insurance scoring is one of the most important and statistically valid tools to predict the likelihood of a person filing a claim and the likely cost of that claim. Credit-based insurance scores are based on information like payment history, bankruptcies, collections, outstanding debt and length of credit history. For example, regular, on-time credit card and mortgage payments affect a score positively, while late payments affect a score negatively.
- The amount of coverage.
Of course, like anything else, the more coverage you have, the more you pay. However, you may qualify for discounts.