June 2013
Steps to Avoid Travel Theft

5 Steps to Avoid Travel Theft

Got summer travel plans? Have fun, but take steps to avoid travel theft. Here are five tips to protect belongings during your summer vacation travels.

Don't bring the bling: Avoid bringing valuables and non-essential gadgets and jewelry. Fancy luggage, expensive watches and other items can draw thieves' attention — so leave them home.

Lock it, secure it: Deter thieves by locking the zippers on luggage and backpacks, and by looping straps over your shoulder or around table or chair legs when seated.

Trick the pickpockets: Keep credit cards, large denominations of cash and your passport in a money belt, and avoid retrieving these items in public. Be vigilant in crowded areas like tourist attractions, bus stops and train stations where pickpockets often lurk.

Be smart about smartphones: Don't leave your smartphone unattended — keep it with you at all times. Always use a pass code, and download an app that tracks, locks and remotely erases personal data if your phone is stolen or lost.

Use carry-ons for electronics: When flying, don't store electronics and cameras in your luggage. Instead, put them in carry-ons, as there is less chance of damage or loss.

If your belongings are lost or stolen while you're traveling, they may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy, although some restrictions and limitations may apply. Check with your American Family Insurance agent for coverage information.

Also, consider travel insurance options offered through American Family Insurance, including Global Medical Insurance, Trip Cancellation Insurance and Mexico Auto Insurance.

Money-Saving Moving Tips

Money-Saving Moving Tips

Summer is the hottest season — for temperatures and for moving.

June is the most popular month to move, followed by August and July respectively, according to the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA).

If you're among the thousands of Americans who have chosen summertime to pull up stakes and relocate, these ideas could help you save money.

Get the urge to purge

Before packing, purge items that you don't use and aren't worth moving. That way, you could save money by avoiding moving costs for the purged items.

Don't get scammed!

Avoid costly rip-offs by verifying you're dealing with a reputable moving company. The Better Business Bureau, AMSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association have online resources to evaluate who's legitimate.

Verify costs in-home, in writing

Internet and phone estimates aren't always reliable. In-home estimates in writing offer a more accurate picture of your actual moving costs, and could help you avoid unforeseen charges. Get more than one estimate, and be wary of movers who ask for a big down payment.

Timing is everything

Movers often charge more during peak times. You could save money by booking your move for mid-week or the middle of the month.

Plan ahead

If your mover charges per hour, save time and money by disassembling furniture and other large items in advance, and writing the names of rooms on boxes.

Pack with care

When packing things yourself, remember that many moving companies won't be held liable for goods damaged during the move, so pack with care. Also, take valuables with you. Consider using American Family's Web-based DreamVault to inventory all your items.

Move it yourself(?)

Obviously, you can save money by loading and renting a truck yourself, or by using a container company. But carefully assess whether you're in good physical condition before you start loading rental trucks or containers. The pain and costly medical bills associated with moving-related injuries isn't worth it!

Simple, Inexpensive Summer Party Ideas

Simple, Inexpensive Summer Party Ideas

Summertime is party time! As you prepare for your next family reunion, neighborhood gathering or backyard cookout with friends, stress less and save money with these ideas for summer shindigs.

Keep it simple and light

  • Green salads and fruit salads are healthy, keep longer and are preferable when hot weather makes "heavier" dishes like casseroles less appetizing.
  • Grilled chicken, pork or tofu cubes on skewers are easy-to-prepare crowd-pleasers. These safety tips can help you avoid grilling mishaps, too!
  • Pasta salad or rice-based dishes round out the menu in a no-fuss, cost-effective way.
  • Cookies or brownies are easy desserts that'll withstand the summer heat.

Cool drink ideas

  • Pitchers of ice water, lemonade and punch are more environmentally friendly and less expensive than bottled or canned soft drinks.
  • If alcoholic beverages are part of the plan, encourage guests to bring their favorites. Don't forget — drink responsibly!

Self-serve is easiest

  • A buffet-style food set-up is hassle-free and gives you more time to mingle.
  • Place canned and bottled beverages in coolers and ice-filled containers around the yard so guests can help themselves.
  • Use your everyday plates, silverware and drinking glasses — you'll save money and it's easier on the environment.

Plan ahead

  • Use event planning websites to confirm the number of guests and whether they have food allergies or restrictions.
  • Consider a liability umbrella policy to protect yourself should the unexpected happen. Talk to your American Family agent to learn more.
  • Have a backup plan to go indoors and keep safe if the weather gets nasty.
Don't Get 'Soaked' by a Flood-Damaged Car Fraud

Don't Get 'Soaked' by Flood-Damaged Car Fraud

Damage caused by hurricanes and floods can be felt across the United States. That's because unscrupulous people sometimes recondition water-damaged vehicles to sell and transport across state lines.

After a natural disaster, a fraudulent activity called “title washing” can become a car buyer's worst nightmare. Often, with this practice:

  • The flood damage is never documented and the vehicle is simply dried and cleaned before being sold to an unsuspecting buyer.
  • A salvage (or total loss) vehicle's title is transferred to a state with different title regulations to “wash” away the salvage brand on the title.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers these tips to help prevent customers from unknowingly purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle.

  • Practice extra caution when purchasing a vehicle after a hurricane or flood — even one several states away.
  • Use the vehicle identification number to access any salvage records.
  • Inspect the vehicle for water damage, including stains, mildew, sand or silt. Check for rust in areas water doesn't typically reach, such as the dashboard, glove compartment and below the seats.
  • Look for visible water marks on the headlights, taillights and door panels.
  • Take the vehicle to a certified mechanic for an inspection before purchasing the car.
  • If the deal sounds too good to be true, walk away.

For more tips, check out the resources provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.