The holiday shopping season is under way. Consumers are online, in the store, and on the phone making purchases. With every non-cash transaction, they could be exposing personal information for the taking. When it’s taken, it may result in identity theft; a crime that the Federal Trade Commission ranks as the fastest-growing white-collar crime in the country.
Allstate Insurance Company recently unveiled Identity Theft Expenses coverage to its New York customers as an optional annual $40 add-on to its homeowners, renters, and condominium/co-op policies. New York is among the first in which Allstate is offering the coverage. There is no deductible and total coverage limit goes up to $25,000. Plus, a unique component of the benefit, Allstate offers customers access to a third-party firm that addresses the effects the victim may face and assists in identity restoration.
“Identity thieves continue to use information technology as a way to facilitate this crime,” said New York Field Product Manager Bill Goff. “Allstate is in the business of protecting and preparing its customers. With the growth of the information age, it seemed necessary to create a product designed to help ease the pain created by identity theft and protect our customers from loss incurred by expenses in restoring one’s identity.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, New York encountered the third highest number of identity theft incidents in 2003 (behind only California and Texas). New York City had the highest number of victims in the state, followed by Rochester, Buffalo, Yonkers, and Syracuse (in that order).
A survey commissioned by the Federal Trade Commission revealed an estimated 27 million Americans have been victims of the crime in the last five years and nearly 10 million last year alone. In 2003, about 215,000 consumers nationwide reported complaints of identity theft to the FTC with nearly 16,000 coming from New York State (13.5% of the total complaints and an increase of more than 3,000 cases from the year before). The total time those 16,000 individuals spent trying to resolve problems created from having their identity stolen was 480,000 hours or 30 hours each. And, the average estimated loss for each of those individuals is between $500-700.
When identity theft occurs, not only do the victims experience loss, they spend days resolving issues created from the theft, such as meeting with an attorney, re-applying for credit or loans denied as a result of the theft, contacting creditors, and the list goes on.
Allstate’s Identity Theft Expenses coverage helps to reimburse those insured for lost time at work, attorney fees, phone calls, mailing costs, loan re-applications fees, and more; and the benefit is designed to help reduce the time victims spend trying to recover what they have lost.
“Our Allstate Identity Theft Expenses coverage helps victims of ID theft recover their lives,” said Allstate New York Spokesperson Maureen Sullivan. “In addition, there are some precautions individuals can take to help protect themselves. It is important to not only insure yourself from the unexpected, but to understand how to be proactive in your protection.”
The Allstate Identity Theft Expenses coverage is a benefit specifically for reimbursement of covered expenses incurred as a direct result of identity theft. While charges resulting from fraudulent use of a credit card are not considered identity theft expenses and would not be covered under this new product, the Allstate homeowners, renters, and condo/co-op policies DO cover up to $1,000 of credit card and bank fraud.
The Identity Theft Expenses coverage is available as an optional endorsement to the Allstate Deluxe Plus Homeowners, Deluxe Homeowners, Renters, and Condominium/Co-op policies. Coverage may be purchased at new business, renewal, or as a mid-term endorsement.
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