I have been around classic cars all my life. When I was a child my Dad had a love affair with old Fords. We worked on all kinds of makes and models. The first restoration project I remember was a 1957 Ford Ranchero. We freshened up the paint, added a new interior, selected a new set of tires and wheels and of course worked out some mechanical bugs. From that project we moved on to a 1957 Ford Thunderbird. This one got the same treatment but mechanically needed a lot more help. I remember lying on the garage floor for hours with my Dad tinkering with these old cars. It was great fun!
Our best project was the six-year restoration of a 1934 Ford Three-Windowed Coupe. This was a complete frame off project where every nut and bolt was removed and reassembled. The project started when I was 12 and was finished just weeks before my senior prom. Guess which car I took that night? Some 30+ years later, I still can’t believe he let me take it. One of the writers for Street Rodder magazine saw the car in Riverside, CA that summer and left an inquiring note on the window. One thing led to another and the coupe became the cover car on the March 1979 issue of that publication. Talk about a dream come true!
I learned many lessons while working on these old Fords. One of the most prominent was the importance of having an eye for detail. When restoring a car, every detail is important. From running gear issues to wiring along with paint and interior, every step is important. Sometimes the seemingly unimportant can be the most important step of all. Missing these details can be the difference between an average car and a magazine cover car.
I have applied this lesson while working with clients with estate preservation issues. Americans can be so preoccupied with building their financial castles that they fail to understand the equally important task of having an adequate moat surrounding the castle. Historically, moats were built for protection, protection against those infamous marauding bands trying to steal one’s wealth! The bigger the castle, the bigger the required moat or wall. Of course we don’t have moats today, but we do have insurance, because insurance serves as a means of protection.
A properly structured insurance program should allow everyone to have a moat or wall that is of the right height for his or her particular castle. It shouldn’t be too big or too small nor should it be laden with holes. There are a number of things that we might compare to holes. These can be a major car accident, a house fire, premature death, a lengthy disability, a long-term illness or lawsuit.
An area I find significant mistakes each day is in the area of auto insurance coverage. For nearly 10 years I was a District Manager for a national multi-line insurance company. I understand the interworking of a typical auto policy. Part of my client review process is to review a client’s auto policy to determine adequate asset protection and cost efficiency. I also cover this topic with attendees at my monthly educational seminars.
The bottom line is this. If you get into an at-fault accident and get sued, all of your assets can be at risk. If you have proper coverage then your assets are protected, but if you don’t you can find yourself liquidating those retirement assets and/or being subject to wage garnishment to satisfy a legal judgment. Regrettably, I have seen the emotional and financial debris of this inattention to detail more than once. These are not happy stories!
Unfortunately, there are many who just pay the auto insurance bill, never really looking at the policy. Auto insurance agents are supposed to regularly review coverage limits with their clients, but many do not. To remedy this problem, I professionally conduct three way conference calls between the insured, the carrier and myself to insure that each policy is structured correctly. As an additional option, I have assembled a brokerage of auto and home carriers to provide just the right policy design for my clients. In most cases, we are able to increase coverage and decrease cost.
Protecting hard earned assets is essential to financial peace. Like restoring an old classic Ford, paying attention to these details can pay big dividends down the road.