Identity Theft Insurance
400,000 victims a year and a small premium to pay for coverage, but is it still good value for your insurance dollar?
It’s that sinking feeling that no insurance policy can truly prepare you for: you have just been the victim of identity theft. Someone has stolen your driver’s license, Social Security number and most catastrophically, your credit card. Before you realize anything’s awry, this thief has racked up thousands of dollars in debt, rented apartments or cars, and made big-ticket purchases – all in your name. You can’t possibly pay off this stranger’s reckless spending spree, and suddenly your credit rating is in tatters.
Thankfully, insurance companies do offer indemnity for this growing problem, and at first glance it looks like a wise policy to have in place. The premiums on identity theft insurance (also called identity fraud insurance) can run as low as $25 a year and provide about $15,000 worth of coverage. This fee can be added to your current polices for home insurance or travel insurance , or it can be set up as a stand-alone account. Though accurate figures are hard to pin down, the Federal Trade Commission estimates that there are somewhere between 160,000 and 400,000 victims of identity fraud in America each year, and the number has been steadily rising.
So why wouldn’t you rush out and get such an affordable policy if you haven’t already?
Well, there is one important thing to keep in mind before you do: identity theft insurance does not actually cover you for the direct monetary loss you suffer from identity fraud. That’s right. If the crook goes out and buys $5,000 worth of DVDs on the Internet with your credit card number, the insurer isn’t going to turn around and pay off that bill for you. Instead, what the policy does cover is the expenses you incur setting your financial house back in order. These expenses can include:
- Fees for reapplying for loans that were turned down because of incorrect credit information;
- Lost wages from having to take time off work to deal with the identity theft;
- Notary and mailing costs for delivering affidavits about the fraud;
- Some of your attorney fees.
Still think the policy is a steal (no pun intended) for 25 bucks a year? Well, keep this in mind: your credit card company may already offer you identity theft protection for free. This protection offers 24/7 telephone access to credit card representatives who can tell if your identity has been stolen and stop the thievery before it ruins you financially.