Guns, Theft and Insurance: Are Your Firearms Covered if the Worst Happens?

broken car window robbery burglary gun stolen

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It’s been a strange month at Hank’s Guns and Ammo. And not good strange either. As a part of that I got a visit from one of my semi regulars that made my heart sink.

Charlotte works at City Hall. She’s a big gun rights gal and I’ve sold her plenty of firearms over the years. She loves her job and her co-workers, but she’s got a problem that many folks who work in government have: she can’t carry her gun at work. Charlotte has to keep her gun in her car as a result. Some of you already see where this is going.

Her car was recently broken into in broad daylight in the city hall employee parking lot. The thieves couldn’t be identified by security cameras and they managed to swipe the Smith & Wesson M&P 40 Compact she kept in her glove box in lieu of her purse.

The police showed up, took a report and then she stopped in on the way home. Nearly in tears, she told me that her car had been broken into and that her pistol was now floating around in the hands of who-knows-who, being traded for any number of illegal substances and purposes.

Dan Z for TTAG

Being a gun dealer is being part bartender, willing to lend a sympathetic ear, so I let her talk about it out for a while before I asked a few questions.

  1. Did she make a PD report of the stolen firearm?
  2. Does she have insurance?
  3. Is there anything I can do to help besides take her money for a new gun?

The good news was that the thief didn’t get anything that couldn’t be replaced. He got her pistol and her son’s Nintendo Switch. (I’m not sure who to feel worse for, her or her kid.)

The bad news is they got the gun and she didn’t have any insurance.

The local police took a report, but she didn’t have a very good system of documenting her property. I’ve talked about this sort of thing before and how it’s a good idea to have some form of catalogue of your valuables.

Personally, I’m a big fan of a simple spiral bound notebook and just keeping up-to-date notes. It’s simple, pretty foolproof and does everything you need it to in a pinch.

Her police report said simply STOLEN FIREARM – S&W 40 CAL with no serial number. The detective assigned to the case asked her to get a serial number so he could add it to the report.

Since she didn’t keep her receipts or anything other documentation, she pulled up some old Facebook pictures of her shooting at the range with her local Girl and a Gun chapter and asked me if I could read the serial number off the box or the side of the gun.

I told her I had a better idea and I went back into the storage closet and pulled out my 2013 sales records. Every dealer catalogs their sales records differently, but in this case it was pretty easy for me to find all the 4473’s she had filled out that year.

Toward the back of the folder I dug out her transaction and got the information she needed. I reprinted the receipt and confirmed that was the same gun/serial number for her and gave it to her for the PD to put in their report. Thankfully my bureaucratic repository of paperwork solved the mystery that was her serial number quandary.

She told me she’d call the PD in the morning first thing and update the report. I told her that’s good, but the unfortunate truth is that gun is likely gone forever, never to be seen again.

That’s when I asked her if she had any insurance.

She said had no firearm insurance at all. She wasn’t a NRA/GOA member and didn’t think that something like this would ever happen to her. She lived in a good neighborhood. She expected people not to break into cars in broad daylight in a city hall parking lot. Stolen firearms were always something that happened to other people.

I nodded in sympathy as I wished her the best.

Before readers lambaste her for keeping a gun in her car, let’s not forget one simple thing. Her gun would not have been there if it were legal for her to carry it where she worked and her employer didn’t prohibit a firearm in the workplace. Because as we all know, nothing bad has ever happened at city hall.

What happened in my customer Charlotte’s case was endemic to many: the gun is prohibited at work, so you keep your carry gun in your car. It’s the classic gun owner’s version of the catch-22.

If the gun is stolen from your car, you’re branded as an irresponsible gun owner who should be sent to the stocks and pilloried. If you’re caught carrying a gun at work, you are branded as an irresponsible gun owner and will probably lose your job (or worse, if, like Charlotte, it’s illegal to have a gun where she works).

My witty rejoinder to all the people who hate guns being stolen from cars is to make carrying firearms legal EVERYWHERE so that folks like Charlotte don’t have to leave them unattended in their vehicles.

Political misgivings aside, what’s done is done and there’s no point crying over spilled milk. This prompted me to think about my own insurance coverage.

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My standard homeowners and auto insurance is through the fine folks at State Farm and I checked my homeowners and auto policies for firearm coverage. My policy limit on firearms is $5,000 with a $2500/max per item. This would cover maybe a third of my pistols, and nothing else.

Whoops. Time to shop for some insurance.

My insurance agent suggested that I purchase a personal articles policy as an add-on to my homeowners insurance policy to cover the firearms. The premium would be $75 a year, there would be no deductible and loss due to theft, peril, and mysterious disappearance would be covered.

The policy limit would be $10,000 and they would need a catalog of the items to be insured with photos of the items, serial numbers and appraisals on all items over $5000.

Initial thought: that’s not bad. State Farm is known for their good claim service. As a longtime State Farm homeowners and auto policyholder who has had a handful of claims over the years, they’ve been good to deal with.

Simply put, had Charlotte had a $75/year policy like that one, she’d have 100% replacement cost coverage to buy a new gun.

Still, I wanted to shop around some more and compare coverages, deductibles, exclusions as well as how much info I’d have to surrender to the insurance company. State Farm’s quote was good, but it would easily take me a day and a half to catalog everything firearm-related with pictures and generating an appraisal to their specifications.

I tried to get a quote from Allstate, but they haven’t gotten back yet, which probably tells you something.

NRA via Lockton Affinity has a product called the ArmsCare Plus insurance program available for members. A quick check on their site revealed a premium quote of $94/year for $10,000 in coverage. They need an appraisal on all items $2,500 or more, but they don’t require a listing of all of my serial numbers.

Initial thought: That could be worse. The coverage is more expensive than State Farm. No listing of items required, but if you have a lot of $2,500+ items, getting individual appraisals of gun values for each could be onerous (and expensive).

I’ve got a number of customers who own a lot more firearms than I do, so I asked a few of them who they use to insure them. I got a few names and some more leads.

One name I heard over and over was Collectibles Insurance Services. They quoted $100,000 in coverage with a premium of just under $750.

Compared with some other offerings – a $125 premium per $10,000 in coverage which seemed to be the best bet of the bunch…if you need that much coverage. Armscare Plus via Lockton was also right in that neighborhood if anyone is wondering.

I didn’t call this agency but Core-Vens Gun Insurance in Iowa had a compelling policy on their website; $100,000 in coverage for $350 – seemed like a bargain compared to everyone else.

I don’t own $100,000 worth of firearms, but I certainly have more than $10,000 worth. A premium of $75 for $10,000 in coverage versus $350 for $100,000 seems like a no-brainer if that covers what you have.

My little research project was eye-opening and something that I really should have done sooner. I’d always been of the opinion that my current coverage was enough, but I didn’t take into account all of the opportunistic gun buying I’ve done over the years and how much that’s filled up the back of my safe.

In addition to having a plan for firearms when you die, it’s a good idea to have a plan for your firearms while you’re still alive. If you happen to be one of the folks like Charlotte who keeps a firearm in their car, a small $75-100/year – either in a stand-alone policy or as as part of your renters or homeowners policy — is a good idea.

That’s not an unreasonable price for a lot of peace of mind for firearms owners.

Do you have firearms insurance? If so, who covers you? What was your experience like finding coverage, getting appraisals and making claims (if you’ve had to)?

 

comments

  1. avatar dph says:

    Insurance is probably a good idea, but I’m hesitant to give anyone any more information about what is in my safe than may already be out there. I know, none of that information would ever be used against me, but maybe I’m just a little bit paranoid.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      You’re not paranoid. I keep records of all my guns, including serial numbers and photos. There’s no way in blazes I’ll be listing them so some company can have all that info on what I have. My firearms are off the grid and off the CA radar for a reason…same as why some people cache or even bury some of their guns. Our Attorney General Xavier Becerra openly gloated to the press last year that he’s glad for the state’s registry and he supports expansion of databases. An insurance company can be subpoenaed for your gun-related info just like any other entity.

      No way, no how, will I ever be handing over info on my guns to anyone. My guns and ammo are spread out and stored at different addresses. Earthquakes, wildfires, and break-ins over the years have taught me to avoid having all my eggs in one basket.

    2. avatar BluesMike says:

      Collectibles Insurance doesn’t need to know what is in your safe and if you offer to tell them, they just ask the dollar amount you want to insure for and roughly how many guns. They ask if they are in a safe and if you keep records. That’s it. Again, you don’t tell them what you have, just the dollar amount.

  2. avatar matthew newton says:

    Mind is just my regular insurance covering 5/2.5k. That certainly doesn’t cover me 100%. But my plan isn’t to cover all of my losses in the event of a fire or theft. Just replace a lot of what I’ve lost. One thing I am mildly curious about is if my regular homeowners would cover the “not gun” gun stuff. I suspect yes. Thinking in terms of things like “wow, $4000 in ammo and accessories was stolen”.

    But at some point I do need to expand that coverage as my collection grows. I just don’t plan to cover everything 100%. “most” of my stuff is sufficient in my eyes.

  3. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “Guns, Theft and Insurance: Are Your Firearms Covered if the Worst Happens?”

    Yup, specific policy addendum…

  4. avatar Patrick says:

    I had my car broken into about 6 months ago – window smashed. I do have a SnapSafe combination lockbox for my pistol that was attached to an internal metal D-ring using the provided steel cable. They stole misc worthless stuff from the car, but left the lockbox alone.

    If you live in an urban area, a box such as this is reasonable care, relatively cheap, and not a huge inconvenience when you have to leave your gun behind.

    1. avatar Geoff WWJWD - "What would John Wick do?" PR says:

      “They stole misc worthless stuff from the car, but left the lockbox alone.”

      Something to think about – they likely well remember the box that weighed like a gun was in there, and the next time they break in, have a small set of bolt cutters with them…

      1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

        As a rule criminals don’t plan. Make it inconvenient to steal your shit and they won’t.

        It’s not really worth worrying about the 0.01% of criminals who do plan and prepare, those are the ones you just need insurance against.

  5. avatar Evan says:

    I added a special firearms kicker to my renter’s insurance from USAA. I don’t remember the details. But I have close to $4000 in my LWRC, and can’t afford to spend that again, because barring an unexpected windfall, it was pretty much my entire gun budget for this year, so it’s good to have some coverage.

    1. avatar NOTlarryfromTx says:

      Same here, I got a personal property insurance line coverage from USSA for all my NFA items and smaller items.

      1. avatar Rick Hess says:

        Yep, covered through USAA for firearms & 20k ammo, plus safe. I’d have to check but my guess is under $150 pretty much covers most of any loses.

        1. avatar Geoff WWJWD - "What would John Wick do?" PR says:

          Same here, covered under USAA, an *awesome* company…

  6. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I don’t “store” my guns in my car. They come with me wherever I go. At night they are in my house. In a safe. My “truck gun” is in a secret compartment. Yes you can have a mechanic build a hiding place for your guns in your POV. There are websites that can help you. Google it.

    1. avatar Felix says:

      One state at least (Ohio?) makes it a felony, I believe, to even have a secret compartment, regardless of whether it is holding contraband or even empty. Of course, unless they find some excuse to search, they’d never know it’s there, but it’s a good thing to know.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        Ohio, Iowa, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, Utah, California, etc. A quick online search pulled up confirmation of laws in many states, all having their origins in drug smuggling.

        My own “trunk gun” case is actually a large Makita tool hardcase with pluck foam installed inside, embellished with nicks, scuffs, and dirt on the outside to make it look like its in daily use. Looks like a normal tool kit to any bystander or curious cop, and gives no hint whatsoever that there are guns and ammo inside. Then the case is locked and cabled to the seats so it can’t be removed from the vehicle. Much better from a legal standpoint than installing a secret compartment that an overzealous tag team of Highway Patrol and County DA will take advantage of.

        1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

          If it’s in Chicago, the toolbox will get stolen, for the tools. My contractor uses a minivan, not a paneled or pick-up truck. No one suspects tools/equipment in a minivan. (A baby car seat helps as a decoy.)

    2. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Yeah. Secret compartment is expressly illegal in Florida.

  7. avatar Dan says:

    State Farm would not insure my hand guns, only rifles. Straight from the horse’s (agent’s) mouth.

    1. avatar WI Patriot says:

      Then your agent is lying to you…
      State Farm insures ALL my guns, hand as well as long…
      You agent may have a personal issue with handguns…

      1. avatar Evan says:

        It might depend on state laws.

  8. That light-weight gun-storage container in the picture above made me cringe. I’ve been sharing my tests of these devices for a while, and I’ve made recommendations for better devices.

    You can see how easily some of these keyed lock boxes can be compromised in this video:

    And you can see a decent alternative, the Fort Knox Auto Pistol Safe, in this video:

  9. avatar MLee says:

    Many policies have a limit for personal property, for example $2500. It doesn’t take long to reach that limit though with guns. In my case I carry a rider on certain listed weapons that covers loss anywhere for anything (even boat accidents) The rider I have though is for weapons valued $1,000 dollars or more including scopes and accessories.

    I’m pretty darn careful at avoiding theft and keep them locked up except for my daily carry. As it happens, I’m in my RV along the Clark Fork River in Montana North of ST. Regis and my guns are with me. This is heavily armed RV!

    Gotta love creating a hot spot with my phone!

    1. avatar NotLarryfromTX says:

      You have to get a rider most of the time for high value items and pay extra. My transferable AR-15 would cost my $20,000 to replace if it was stolen. It is so cheap with the combination of car insurance it’s stupid to not have it.

      1. avatar MLee says:

        It really is cheap. Besides the rider, like many people, I have a million dollar umbrella. Why people don’t carry sufficient insurance is beyond me. I also carry really high limits on my auto and RV insurance. And then there are people that won’t even pay for renters insurance! It’s mind boggling! All it takes is one small mistake behind the wheel and some lawyer can EASILY find out what assets you have and suddenly you are getting sued. I’m not losing everything I have worked my entire adult life too have because I was too cheap to have decent insurance.

  10. avatar Ima Yeti says:

    IIRC, NRA, while it lasts, covers lifetime members gats. Of course that means taking money away from ole Wayne, and since he can’t afford to buy his employees coffee, it’s iffy.

  11. avatar Anymouse says:

    Core-Ven’s website doesn’t work and all their links are unfounded errors. With such lack of modern business acumen, it makes me doubtful that they’ll be able to fulfill their part of the agreement if I had a loss.

  12. avatar Foghorn Leghorn says:

    New title for website – the truth about home owners insurance….

    ‘she told me that her car had been broken into and that her pistol was now floating around in the hands of who-knows-who, being traded for any number of illegal substances and purposes’

    I’ll take words that were never spoken for $1000 Alex…

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      ha.

      “Being a gun dealer is being part bartender,…” my bartender is part gun dealer.

      only my hairdresser knows for sure.

  13. avatar EJQ says:

    In Texas, it is legal to have a “car gun” for self defense. Doesn’t matter if it’s a pistol or a rifle. I believe it must be concealed, however, I was at a red light next to a good ole boy with a full rifle rack in his truck not long ago. It’s been a while since that was the norm.

    My glove box locks. My husband’s and son’s glove boxes do not. I always lock the gun in the glove box when I’m somewhere I cant carry. It’s worked so far I know it’s not full proof. As of yet, it hasn’t been tested. I have been told that a car thief “usually” doesn’t waste his time on breaking locks. A bunch of goodies, visible from the outside, is what attracts the thief to a car. My car is not the cleanest, but nothing valuable is visible.

  14. avatar Feffrey says:

    I use collectables, they don’t need any lists of firearms or serial numbers until you need to file a claim. They also cover reloading equipment, ammo, and other firearm related things. Besides fire, and burglary, they cover transportation and shipping as well. Definitely a great company and very inexpensive. I started $1000 and have been working my way up as the collection has grown.

    1. avatar RA-15 says:

      FEFFREY , collectables is a good choice . TTAG turned me on to them about a year ago in a similar blog. For a reasonable $89.a year they’ll cover 10k in firearms, no pictures or serial numbers until & when you have to make a claim.

  15. avatar daveinwyo says:

    I have a K-9 type barrier between my front seat and back seat of my Ram 4 door.
    My truck guns are in the back with my 80 pound German Shepherd.
    As I don’t have the city low life threat, that seems to be enough, so far. And,no, I won’t tell my insurance co. or any one else, what I own. I do keep a ledger w/ numbers.

  16. avatar No One Special says:

    I have a safe and a valuable personal property policy through USAA that covers replacement cost for all items listed. USAA stores pictures and identifying information and I also have the same information put away. Since home is where most of us keep our valuables other anti scum measures are a good idea too. Things like cameras, security system, and a good dog help deter scum that walk the earth. I feel for the victim in the article and don’t blame her for the theft. Her and her family’s livelihood should be more important than risking getting fired or worse by carrying a firearm at work. I’ve been in situations in the past where I had to leave my firearm in the car. Fortunately nowadays there are affordable car safes that may not stop a criminal but will at least slow them down or make them think twice about taking the extra time. All that said I agree with the author, make it legal to carry firearms everywhere and we can all be responsible no matter where we are.

  17. avatar Specialist38 says:

    State farm. Most guns I carry are model,that can easily be replaced.

    I notice that the Glock 43 is now $50 cheaper than when I bought mine.

    Walther Creed is 250 from CDNN.

    I dont sweat replacing them if some scumbag steals one.

    Guns in home safe are another matter. Lots of sentimental value that I couldnt replace with money.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      I do have a list of serials though.

  18. avatar TRogers says:

    I got a really good quote from easterninsurance. I got $45K for a $150 annual premuim.

  19. avatar RCC says:

    Sporting Shooter Association Australia offers a $25 000 firearms replacement insurance for $25 a year. You don’t have to provide any details of firearms unless you have a claim. Over $25 000 needs individual quote. Always surprises me that NRA has nothing similar.

    I have photos and serial numbers of all my firearms stored with copy of my will and other legal documents. Not on computer or at home.

  20. avatar George Venable says:

    I’ll stay with the NRA affiliated insurance. I know Lockton ain’t going away and also have known folks who collected. Not many of mine are over $2500 so no serial numbers shared with the insurance. And, plus one on keeping updated list wiuth approx. values to make it easy on the bride when she auctions my stuff !

  21. avatar Wood says:

    I too am barred from carry at work. So when I park to go in I stash in one of these console vaults:
    https://www.consolevault.com/

    Need to look into the insurance, I turned StateFarm down with their list requirement.

  22. avatar Mr no says:

    All this is very good…unless you live in the great safe state of NY ….our fearless govenator is barring any and all insurance companies that do business in this Jack off state I used have the NRA insurance and if you read the Rifleman you know….no one can get firearms insurance in NY. How stupid mr. Asshole

  23. avatar former water walker says:

    My eyes glazed over when I read “she lives in a good neighborhood”! No such thing. Sometimes I leave my Taurus in the glove box…no big loss if a POS steals it. As mentioned a good reason to have NRA endorsed insurance.

  24. avatar Ken says:

    FYI: To use NRA insurance, you have to activate it. Just being a member does not automatically turn it on, you have to call NRA and tell them to activate the insurance before hand or they won’t cover a loss.

  25. avatar Don from CT says:

    The author misses a small but HUUUGGEEEE detail in his description of his insurance.

    Although i don’t actually know what his insurance, I spent time shopping around for homeowners insurance specifically with an eye towards getting something with the most gun coverage with the least premium.

    What I found was that most of these specific limits on firearms only apply to THEFT. When it comes to fire and flood, the firearms are usually insured up to the maximum contents value of the policy.

    This means that for firearms with no sentimental value, you are better off spending your money on a theft only safe. Not a fire safe.

    If you have $1000 to spend on a safe, you will get more for your money if its just a metal box with no interior or fireproofing.

    It also means that in homes without children and in states where its legal, a good hiding place is better than a mediocre safe in plain sight. (which immediately becomes the focus of a thief’s efforts)

    Don

    1. avatar No One Special says:

      Better off to to go with a rider policy such as a valuable personal property policy. Such a policy covers any type of loss at replacement value with no deductible. Or at least my policy does. You can even insure a $4,000+ safe and should safe and guns go up in a raging inferno or blown away by some severe natural disaster, the policy replaces it at replacement cost.

  26. avatar BusyBeef says:

    She should sue her employer.

    1. avatar Evan says:

      She’d have no cause of action.

      An employer has a right to disallow the carrying of guns on their premises, whether or not it’s wise to do so (and I don’t think it is).

      It was her decision to carry, and her decision to leave her firearm in her vehicle. Nothing the employer did forced her to do so.

      The employer cannot be held legally responsible for a third party trespassing on their property to commit criminal acts.

      No jury on earth would rule in favor of her in any lawsuit against her employer based on someone breaking into her car and stealing her gun. But that doesn’t matter, because the employer’s lawyers would get the case thrown out for lack of a cause of action before it got anywhere near a jury.

      1. avatar No One Special says:

        The unfortunate part about employers banning employees carrying is the employer also has no liability for what happens to it’s employees after leaving work. Not allowing employees to carry should carry consequences. Especially if there is a work place violence where a shooting with injuries or death are involved. The employer has effectively taken away the ability to willful defense should an employee choose to do so against an attacker. That should make the employer liable.

        1. avatar Evan says:

          Of course employers shouldn’t be liable for anything that happens outside the workplace. If an employee crashes his car on the commute home, that is by no means the employer’s fault.

          Now, if there is an incident of workplace violence, and the employer forbade the carrying of guns in the workplace, I could see that being a cause of action, and could probably make a decent case against the employer – by failing to allow employees to protect themselves, the employer put them in harm’s way.

        2. avatar No One Special says:

          Wouldn’t the same hold true for an employee that was attacked and injured or even killed between work and home? It would be because of the employer telling me that I couldn’t carry a gun that prevented me from defending myself after all. The accident example doesn’t hold water with me because the employer isn’t telling me to drive or not to drive a vehicle. That’s my choice of how I get to and from work so whatever happens because of my choice lands firmly with me. Some employers will fire an employee if it comes to light that an employee has a gun in their vehicle if state law allows. I can understand people that have a good job not wanting to jeopardize their livelihood or worse by chancing carrying a firearm if their employer doesn’t allow it. Therefore since it’s the employers rule the employer should be liable. Now if the employer had no say one way or the other and a person chose not to carry and was attacked and injured or possibly killed see the example of choosing to drive a vehicle or not to get to and from work.

        3. avatar Evan says:

          By the same token, that employer telling you not to bring a gun into the workplace cannot tell you not to keep one in your car.

          The employer should be responsible for what goes on in the workplace. Outside of the workplace is beyond the control of the employer, and thus it would not be reasonable to hold the employer liable for anything that happens outside of it (with some limited exceptions – if an employee is sent home for being drunk and causes an accident, the employer could be held liable for putting a drunk driver on the road, etc).

        4. avatar No One Special says:

          State law where I live forbids employers from firing or pressing charges against an employee for having a gun in their vehicle. It wasn’t always that way and I worked for a well known company that would fire an employee if it came to light an employee had a gun in their vehicle. That includes a deer rifle during deer season. They had an asinine strict no guns policy.

        5. avatar Wood says:

          An employer who bars me from carrying is liable for any attack which should befall me inside the workplace or on their property between the exit door and my vehicle. After removing my means of self protection and failing to then provide for my protection they are absolutely liable. Would such a case ever make it to court? Doubt it. The lefties are anti self reliance and the righties support corporations over individuals. We’re just cattle or batteries to them/the machine.

          If I were on a jury for such a case, I would not be sympathetic to the employer.

    2. avatar Jeff says:

      I mean.. It isn’t really her employers call to make. It said she works in city hall.. I don’t know about where you live, but here in North Carolina it is illegal to carry in government buildings.

  27. avatar MAGA says:

    While reading this article I paused to compare costs between my insurer (Oklahoma Farm Bureau) & USAA because I’ve heard only good about USAA. They were about $200 a year more expensive than my current, and that’s just for car insurance. Farm Bureau will not insure gats, so I got the NRA for them, so far, so good. I do keep all locked in safe except my go to guns. I don’t trust safes if gone for extended time, so I have alternatives, just in case. We will never see the days again when weapons can be carried any/everywhere. Just too many scumbags out there, either in office or on the streets.

    1. avatar No One Special says:

      For equal amount of coverage between the two? I have $300,000 liability coverage on my auto policy through USAA and so far I haven’t found an insurance company yet that can match it. The most any other company offers is $250,000 and they can’t touch my premium through USAA, everyone else is way higher. Although I’ve also been with USAA for going on 14 years now which does make a difference.

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