COLUMBUS, Ohio – As identity theft grows increasingly problematic, insurance companies are offering policies to cover the losses incurred. Since 1999 Travelers Insurance of Hartford, Conn., has identity theft policies, while others including Cincinnati Insurance Co. and Columbus-based Grange Insurance have added the coverage, usually as a rider to a homeowner's policy. The insurance covers expenses to restore credit, copies, mail, calls, time lost from work, even attorney fees. Premiums range from $10 to $40 for up to $25,000 in coverage and most policies have a $100 or more deductible. According to company representatives, few if any claims have been filed. A May 2000 California Public Interest Group study finds that victims spend an average of 175 hours and $808 on legal problems. The jury is still out on the necessity of such coverage since the victims are still required to do all the legwork of restoring their credit and only 1% surveyed reported spending $1,000 or more during the process. The Department of Justice estimates there are 500,000 to 700,000 identity theft victims a year. The Federal Trade Commission told Congress this year that the frequency and cost of the crime is growing. [email protected]

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