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Tip Sheet

October 8, 2010

Ask an expert

Q: Can insurance help with damages caused by identity theft?

John Neighbarger
Jennifer Longtin
Lighthouse Insurance Agency
Ballston Lake, N.Y.

A: Great question. The answer is “yes.” ERIE offers Identity Recovery Coverage (or IDR, as we like to call it). It’s insurance that helps you reclaim your identity in the event that fraud or theft occurs.

I know how important this coverage is because I personally experienced credit card fraud two years ago. (Me, who files and shreds everything as perfectly as possible!) If thieves can find ways to steal even the most careful person’s credit card information, they can swipe your identity, too. Here’s how the coverage works: When added to your homeowners insurance, this endorsement helps you reclaim some of the costs associated with restoring your identity—such as lost wages, attorney fees, notary fees and credit reports—up to $25,000. The insurance also provides a case manager who’s an expert on reclaiming stolen identities, saving you both time and money.

Most financial institutions limit your exposure to funds lost due to fraud. That means you shouldn’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges on your credit card. However, if your financial institution doesn’t limit your financial responsibility when fraud occurs, you can use ERIE’s homeowners insurance and Identity Recovery Coverage for fraud reimbursement, too.

Those who steal identities are out to take what’s not theirs, using your good name to do it. Give your Agent a call if you’re interested in protection against the damages identity thieves can cause.

Have a question for an insurance expert? Let us know. E-mail us at or send us a letter.


Tips for a Happy Halloween

  • Candy CornBe sure all children under age 12 trick-or-treat with an adult.
  • Only permit trick-or-treating at the homes of friends and neighbors you know well.
  • If you buy a costume, read the box or label. Look for the words “flame retardant” or “flame resistant.”
  • Never carry candles, torches or other open flames as part of a costume.
  • Make sure all children in the group carry an ID card with their name, address and emergency phone numbers (including area code), in case they get lost.

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Safety that Leads to Savings

What to look for when shopping for a car

Shopping for a new set of wheels? Save money on your insurance premium by choosing a model with great safety features. (Check out this story for the latest safety enhancements.)

Why? Safer cars save lives and money. Erie’s Dave Freeman explains, “We rate vehicles by crash-worthiness. Safer cars get cheaper rates.”

How to choose the best (and safest) The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety posts public information on the safety ratings of each vehicle on the market. Go to to research the model you’re considering.

Plan ahead with the help of your Agent Before you buy, contact your ERIE Agent for up-to-date information on insurance discounts for auto safety features, as well as the cost to insure different models.

Know that technology doesn’t replace common sense when driving. Safety technologies are not designed to make drivers complacent, but to add to their existing level of safety.

“Engineers design safety features as systems of last resort,” says David Zuby, chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “so that drivers don’t start depending on them. Ultimately, it’s up to the driver to prevent as many crashes as possible.”

Bumper to Bumper

The surprising cost of parking lot taps

Parking lot dangersRacing to get the last spot in the lot? Think twice before gassing it.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that one out of every five accidents nationwide takes place in a parking lot. Another IIHS study found that 14 percent of all claims for auto damage involve parking lot collisions.

Depending on what car you drive, these tiny taps can lead to big bills. The IIHS performed a study in 2008 that showed the average costs associated with bumper damage on 20 small car makes and models can stretch into thousands of dollars.

The Ford Focus bumpers performed the best, with full front bumper damage costing an average of $588 to repair. (Repair costs for the rear bumper were $529.) On the other end of the spectrum, the Volkswagon Rabbit’s front bumper cost $4,078 dollars to repair. On more than half of the cars examined, the front bumper repair costs were more than $2,000.

While auto makers can work to make bumpers more efficient, keep your own costs low by taking it slow, paying attention and parking smart. And, think twice before racing for that spot.
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