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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How to Collect on Lost Life Insurance Policies

A relative has just died. He had a life insurance policy with you listed as the beneficiary. There's just one problem: the life insurance policy is missing. You have no idea which insurance company wrote it.

If you find the missing life insurance policy in the future, are you still eligible to receive the death benefit?

Hope they paid their insurance bills

If you're a beneficiary and you find the lost life insurance policy shortly after the insured dies (within six months to a year, for example), claiming the death benefit should be trouble-free.

First, determine if the insured had term or permanent life insurance. If the insured held a term policy, you'll receive the death benefit if he died before the end of the policy term. If he died after the policy expiration date, you would get nothing.

If the insured had a permanent life policy, you'll receive the money if the death occurred while the policy was "in force," meaning all premium payments were made up until the time of death. If the death was a while ago, you'll receive the benefit with interest from the date of death.

If the life insurance policy lapsed — meaning the insured stopped making premium payments before he died — there's a chance you might get nothing. When a permanent life insurance policy lapses, most insurance companies switch its status from permanent insurance to one of two options:

"Extended term" — The insurance company uses the cash value of the policy to buy a term life insurance policy for the same death benefit using the cash value of the policy. The death benefit will continue for the longest period the cash value will purchase.

"Reduced paid up" — The insurance company will keep the policy in force permanently, but will reduce the death benefit.

Gerry Brogla, an actuary for State Farm, says in the majority of the cases at his company, the permanent policy continues as extended term if it lapses. At State Farm, extended term is the default option for most permanent policies.

If the policy lapses, and the extended-term period expires before the insured dies, the policy is worthless and the life insurance beneficiary will get nothing. If the insured dies before the extended-term period is up, the beneficiary will receive the death benefit. If the policy lapsed because the insured died (thus ending premium payments and causing the insurance to be placed in extended-term status), the beneficiary will still collect the full death benefit, regardless of when the extended term was up. The beneficiary always needs to supply the insurance company with a death certificate to verify the date of death.

There is no time limit during which a life insurance beneficiary must step forward to collect the money, according to Jack Dolan, spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers. "If a person shows up 30 years after [the insured's] death, the company still makes good on it," Dolan assures.

What happens if no one ever reports the death?

If the insured dies and the insurance company does not learn of the death, the policy lapses. Insurance companies will take steps to find out why a policyholder stopped making payments.

When an insurance company stops getting payments, it sends letters to the insured informing him the policy may lapse as a result of unpaid premiums. If the letters go unanswered, the company might initiate a search to find the insured. If that comes up empty, the company will then lapse the policy.

If a beneficiary to a policy never steps forward, it unfortunately means the insured paid money to a policy throughout his life and his beneficiaries never see a penny. This is why its a good idea to make sure beneficiaries are aware of any life insurance policies you have.

If you're lucky, the state may have your money

In some cases when a beneficiary fails to claim a death benefit for several years, the money is transferred to the state where the insurance policy was purchased under the escheat laws.

If a company knows an insured died and it cannot find the beneficiary, it must turn the full death benefit over to the state comptroller's department within three to five years of the insured's death. The money is transferred to the state where the insured bought the policy. The money is considered "unclaimed property" and gets lumped in with dormant bank accounts and uncollected rent deposits. The comptroller's department maintains a database that lists the names and addresses of lost life insurance beneficiaries.

Many states will try to contact life insurance beneficiaries in an effort to pay the death benefits. In Texas, for example, the names and addresses of the beneficiaries are published annually in each county in the state. In New York, the Web site of the New York State Comptroller's Office of Unclaimed Funds has an online search to find any unclaimed death benefits owed to you. You can find out the procedures in your state by contacting the office of your state comptroller or treasurer.

Keep in mind your chances of finding the policy with the state are slim. The insurance company has no obligation to hand the money over to the state if it's unaware the insured died. In most cases, it's the beneficiary who contacts the insurance company.

Also, the insurer only transfers the money to the state three to five years after it cannot find the beneficiary but knows the insured died. If the state doesn't have the death benefit, it's likely the insurer is still looking for the beneficiary or doesn't know the policyholder has died.

Unclaimed death benefits are rarely transferred to the state. Dave Potter, a spokesman for Hartford Life, says less than 1 percent of his company's death benefits go unclaimed.

Del Chance, a life insurance claims manager at State Farm, says, "Turning over life policy benefits to an individual state after the death of an insured is extremely rare. State Farm utilizes their own search techniques as well as outside vendors to locate lost beneficiaries in the event of the death of one of our insureds. By and large these procedures have always located the beneficiary.

Tips for making sure your life insurance beneficiaries get your death benefit:

1. Give your beneficiaries your policy information. It can be a difficult and awkward conversation, but an important one.

2. Keep all your financial records (especially your life insurance policies) in one place. Don't force your beneficiaries to search your house from top to bottom after you die.

Tips for looking for lost life insurance policies:

1. Go through canceled checks or contact your relative's bank for copies of old checks. Look for checks made out to insurance companies.

2. Ask those who may have known about your relative's finances. Speak with the relative's lawyer, banker or accountant. Also contact the relative's insurance agent.

3. Contact your relative's past employers. They might know of possible group life insurance. The insured might have also purchased supplemental life insurance through work.

4. Check the mail for a year. Premium bills and policy-status notices are usually sent annually.

5. Look at income tax returns for the past two years. Check for interest income from policies or expenses paid to life insurance companies.

6. Contact the Medical Information Bureau. If your relative bought life insurance fairly recently, there might be a trail of the companies to which he applied. The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) maintains a database that might show if insurers requested your relative's medical information within the past seven years. Record searches can be requested through the MIB's Policy Locator Service and cost $75. The MIB says that nearly 30 percent of searches turn up leads.

Friday, July 18, 2008

How Good Is Your Health Insurance Policy Really?

How much do you know about your health insurance policy? If your company provides your health insurance then you probably know just about as much as most people. You know the doctors to use and how much you have to pay before the insurance begins. For those that purchase their own health insurance policy, then you have very different situation.
The cost is the first difference that most people notice if they switch from a group plan. When your employer offers health insurance, the cost is usually a lot lower if the group is large. One for the reasons is that they spread the risk the risk among a large group of people. The second includes the fact the cost of billing is lower because the company does the collection of premiums. The biggest reason for the price difference is that the employer pays part of the premium or all of it in very rare instances.

Frequently the coverage is broader in a group plan. The individual health plan seldom contains dental, prescription and eye care. The deductibles are often higher in an individual health insurance plan and coverage more limited. Often well baby care, wellness care, including physicals and smoking cessation and maternity are not part of the policy. Many employers discovered long ago how to keep costs down and increase coverage and you can do the same thing when you buy your health insurance policy. Health insurance policies vary widely so you have to make some decisions about the type of coverage that you want. Do you want one that just covers major medical, the services of a hospital and outpatient surgery, or do you wand coverage that picks up the expense of doctors and routine physicals covered? When you include additional options and get a more comprehensive health insurance policy, the price goes up. Insurance company calculates the premium by presumed expense. They expect to pay more, because more people use the doctor and wellness care, so they increase the price accordingly.

Another way that companies keep the cost of the health insurance policy low is to use Health Maintenance Organizations, HMO's. The doctors and hospitals in the group agree to a discounted charge, so the insurance company reduces the amount they charge the company. These types of plans are also available to the individual and create a cost savings without cutting corners. Often there is a co-pay for doctor's visits and hospitalization and a few extra perks are in the package.

A final way to reduce the cost of a health insurance policy is to increase the deductible. The higher the deductible, the lower the cost. Many companies use a partial self-insure to reduce the cost. The insurance plan covers everything but has a huge deductible, about $5000 per individual. The company then starts a side fund that covers those smaller claims so the employee only pays a small deductible. This type of plan is also available for the individual. It is a combination plan where some of the monthly payment goes into a savings account used for upfront expenses. This account belongs to the individual and receives tax-free growth as long as you use it for medical expenses. The payment for up-front bills comes from the savings. Once you reach the chosen limit, a much lower cost health insurance policy takes over. These plans are great for healthy individuals.

When you compare health coverage, look for a plan that suits your needs and budget. Check the reduction of premium as you increase the deductible and, even if you don't have a MSA, set the savings aside to cover the additional out of pocket. Study your health insurance policy as the corporations do and you save on one of your biggest monthly expenses.by Jon Arnold

Last Minute Travel Insurance

Many travellers wait until the last minute before buying their travel insurance, because they know that if they purchase the insurance online, they can have a policy in their hands straight away. This is how most online insurance websites normally do business. However, buying their travel insurance very close to the date they are going to leave town on holiday or on a business trip runs a greater risk of them being uninsured in case they have to cancel their trip.

How can this be? What does waiting to purchase travel insurance have to do with cancelling your holiday or business trip? It all has to do with one of the benefits of travel insurance. Lets say you have plans to go on holiday. You have your plane tickets and have booked a hotel room at your destination. Youve purchased new luggage and some new clothing and you just cant wait to go on holiday - its been so long since you were able to get away!

But... what if something happened to you before you went on holiday? You may become ill or injured, or possibly someone in your immediate family could pass away. Any of these reasons could cause you to cancel your long-planned holiday. Heres where travel insurance would come in very handy. Most travel insurance policies, such as those from insure4less have a type of travel cancellation insurance insurance that would take care of the expenses incurred as a result of having to cancel your holiday. Buying travel insurance before the last minute would avoid the risk of this happening and leaving you out of pocket.

Life is not a given. We never know what is going to happen to us or to members of our family from one day to the next. Anything could come up suddenly that could cause a holidays unexpected, yet forced cancellation. By putting off buying your travel insurance until the last minute, you are making yourself vulnerable to losing not only your holiday but also the money you have already spent. Thats why you should take the time to check out insure4less.com.au for the best rates and travel insurance for Australians.

People are often busy before going on holiday and can panic when they realise how little time they have left to tie up loose ends before their trip. This can result in them rushing around and buying the first travel insurance policy that they come across. They may be happy that they have managed to grab a travel insurance policy at the last minute but what if something does go wrong and the insurance they have bought does not give them the cover that they were expecting?

Imagine a parent discovering that the policy they bought at the last minute and entrusted to take care of their familys needs while on holiday, ends up turning them down for medical coverage because their childs asthma was considered to be a pre-existing condition by their insurance company. Taking time to shop around and compare policies like the ones provided by companies like insure4less could have saved them a great deal of worry and money. Insure4less provides a list of pre-existing medical conditions which clearly shows what they do cover and asthma is one of them!

It is surprising how many people buy an insurance policy that is not right for them or their situation. Research shows that around 63% of people who are planning a holiday do not bother to take out a travel insurance policy until the last minute. They are not then covered for any of the bad luck that could occur in the run up to their trip which could end up with them having to cancel. Leaving it until the last minute and buying insurance in a rush can often mean they dont allow themselves time to make sure they read the fine print and are therefore getting the right coverage! Many people who dont read the fine print before buying their policy can end up very sorry afterwards however, insure4less have their Product Disclosure right on their website, so that anyone can examine it closely before deciding whether or not to buy the travel insurance policy.

Some people think it is perfectly fine to travel with no insurance at all and do not realise what a huge risk they are taking! If, for example, they were involved in a car accident, what would they do? Without travel insurance coverage, they could very well end up having to pay out an enormous sum of money for medical and other expenses.

If you want to make sure you are covered for your holiday before and during your trip, you should purchase your travel insurance as soon as you have put a deposit down on your flight or accommodation. And, if you are looking for a travel insurance company that has cut out the commission that the travel agent usually gets, and the travellers pay for, check out insure4less! They have a selection of policies to suit almost all needs and budgets.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Top 10 Ways to Save on Auto Insurance

These are the top ten ways to save on your auto insurance, starting from ten and working its way down to number one. Follow these tips to help you save year after year;

10. Be Knowledgeable Being aware of the different types of coverage available will help you weed out the unnecessary coverage and avoid paying for protection you may not need or already have elsewhere like through your employer benefits, GAP coverage, or road side assistance.

9. Have an insure-friendly vehicle. When it comes to your vehicle, insurance carriers will look at the title of the vehicle, a salvage title vehicle is subject to higher insurance rates. The reason being is that a vehicle that has already been in an accident is already made weak is more vulnerable to risk. When. A clean auto title can save you a lot of money each year.

8. Take advantage of auto/homeowner packages - Many carriers will offer discounts for purchasing your homeowners policy along with your auto policy. This can reduce your premiums by a certain percentage such as 5-20%. Ask your agent about home/auto packages to see if you are eligible.

7. Renewal Discounts - Renewing your policy term may come with a variety of advantages. When you renew, violations that are no longer on your record will be dropped from your policy. Most carriers will offer some kind of discount for staying with them for another term, usually six to twelve months. This discount can range in percentage depending on the carrier; however it may be in the range of 5%.

6. Higher Deductibles - When you purchase your coverage, consider the deductible you have selected. If you are paying a considerable amount of money for a low deductible, try raising your comprehensive and collision deductible to see what impact it will have on your premium. The higher the deductible the lower your premium; however, be careful not to raise your deductible too high. Remember, the deductible is what you will pay out in order to fix your vehicle's damages.

5. Avoid Duplicate Coverage - If you have a health insurance policy through your employer or independently, tell your agent so that you will not purchase coverage that your health policy already covers. Reconsider getting medical payments coverage with your personal automobile policy since it may not be necessary. Also discuss with your agent the option of excluding Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury or Personal Injury Protection.

4. Keep a Clean Record - Having a clean driving record is very important. Simple violations can increase your rate by hundreds of dollars a year. Your driving record will be checked anytime you purchase a policy and is a big factor for determining rates. Violations will eventually come off your record, but it may take anywhere from 3 - 10 years depending on the type of violation and state guidelines. The least amount of tickets and accidents you may have, the cheaper and more affordable your premiums will be.

3. Stay Insured - Most companies will offer a discount for being continually insured without any lapse. This is known as a persistency discount which shows that you aren't one who will be cancelled every other month for non-payment of premium. Discounts usually apply after one year buy may be greater if continually insured for 3 or even 5+ years.

2. Take Advantage of Discounts - Discounts can save you money and almost everyone qualifies for them. There are many discounts available such as good student, low mileage, college degree, vehicle safety, senior safety and more. Many discounts may not be offered unless you initiate the request. Ask your agent or broker if you qualify for any discounts.

1. To save on auto insurance compare - Completing an online premium comparison is one of the most effective ways of finding competitive rates. The benefit of getting auto insurance quotes online is that you not only get rates from one, but from many major insurance carries throughout the United States, all at once and from one single source. No obligation or personal information is needed. Rate quotes are instant and in most states, policies may be purchased online.

Consumers may also research companies and look up valuable information. Log on to AutoInsurance.net.in to learn more on how to save big on your premiums year after year.

Do You Have Enough Jewelry Insurance?

Jewelry insurance comes in many forms and varieties and only an insurance agent can provide accurate and specific advice. However, it helps to know enough about jewelry insurance to ask your agent the right questions and to be aware of how the process works. The time to ask your insurance agent the questions is before you insure an item, not when you need to file a claim. Read the fine print in your insurance contract to be sure it provides the coverage you expect.

Understanding jewelry insurance begins with recognizing the difference between scheduled and unscheduled property.

Unscheduled property (jewelry not specifically listed) is typically included in basic homeowner or renter’s policies under blanket coverage. There is a usually a deductible (typically $500) and a maximum amount of coverage (typically $1500) although these amounts can vary with the specific policy. This type of coverage does not require an appraisal but sales receipts, written descriptions or photos are beneficial in proving the items existed and estimating their replacement value.

Scheduled property (jewelry specifically listed) is included in a floater, rider or endorsement to homeowner or renter’s policies. Jewelry insurance is also available with a separate policy, from a company specializing in jewelry insurance. For scheduled property, the insurance appraisal is vital because it describes the jewelry item and provides the “insured value” that is used in determining the premium you will pay to insure the item each year. Most scheduled property policies do not have an automatic appreciation adjustment as is common for the house and other unscheduled property. Therefore, even if it might cost 50% more to replace an item in five years, the “insured value” is still only that stated in the appraisal.

If you file an insurance claim, the settlement process and amount paid will depend on the policy and in particular, if the policy allows replacement or agreed value settlement. For agreed value policies, the settlement amount is stated in the policy whereas replacement value allows the insurance company to replace your jewelry or make a cash settlement based on the insurance company’s cost to replace your item. The insurance company’s liability ceiling is set at the “insured value” on the appraisal.

Do you have enough jewelry insurance? The answer depends on what kind of policy you have, the “insured value” is on the appraisal, the settlement procedure is for your particular policy, and the accuracy of the information on your appraisal. If you have a jewelry item valued at more than the $1500, you should definitely consider scheduled as opposed to unscheduled coverage.

The critical issue for scheduled property coverage is the how accurate is the information on the appraisal.

1) If the information on the appraisal is vague and general, the insurance company can replace the item with an item that satisfies the description but perhaps is not the quality and true value of the lost item. Be sure your jewelry appraisal has a detailed and accurate description of the jewelry item.

2) If the appraisal value is artificially high, the insurance company can replace the item at their cost even though the client paid premiums for years on a value twice as much. This is often the case for purchases from a jewelry store with prices double other retailers and the store provides an insurance appraisal even higher than the purchase price. You do not need an appraised value more than 150% of the price you would pay at low priced online retailer.

3) If the appraisal value is too low, the insurance company can make cash settlement that might not cover the current replacement cost of the item. This could be the case for items purchased three or four years ago from a low price online retailer and the appraised value was at or below the purchase price. With diamond prices increasing about 10% a year recently, it does not take long for appraisal values to be out of date if too close to online retail purchase prices. Be sure to have your jewelry insurance appraisal updated every four or five years so you do not end up underinsured.

Methods Of Saving Money

Saving is basically putting aside money or a way to utilize your present income for future use. One saves for several reasons such as for a college education, buying a new car, for a new TV set you wish to acquire in three to four months time, for down payment on a home, or to provide for yourself when retirement comes.

As much as there are several reasons for saving, there are likewise many methods in which one can save. In most instances, the best method can be determined by whatever plans you have for the future.

1. Savings accounts. When saving for just a short period or for emergency purposes, consider opening a savings account passbook, as it is in this method that you can easily gain access to your funds.

Great for both long and short term savings, you can deposit and withdraw money to your account and earn interest, based on your average daily balance. A minimum balance is required to be maintained though, and you are charged with a penalty should you fail to maintain it.

2. Checking account with interest. Here one can benefit from checking account conveniences, while your deposits gain interests. Generally these types of accounts grants privileges such as limitless withdrawal and check writing, access to ATM and bill payments that can be done online.

This method typically requires a daily maintaining balance of at least $2,000.

3. Money market insured accounts. For long-termed goals, this method is ideal, as it generally offers a much higher rate of interest compared to a regular or standard savings account.

The interest rate usually is dependent on the amount of money in your bank account; larger balance means higher interest.

4. “CD” or Certificates of Deposit. This is a savings method requiring you to “loan” your money to your financial agency for a certain time frame, usually ranging from thirty days up to five years. Here, the longer the time span again, means higher interest.

Keep in mind that usually insurance companies offer better deals on interests compared to banks, so before you invest, compare rates first!

At certain times, when your goal is many years away, it can be a wiser decision to save money in a certain way that you are not drawn on using it other than the main reason for saving it. Deciding on the right financial agency such as a bank, credit union or insurance firm can bring about a lot of benefit in your finances.

Diabetics Without Long-term Insurance

In today's world when we are living longer than ever before, there will come a time as we get older when we will not be able to pay for health insurance premiums. However, we are still going to need a way to pay for our care. This is especially true for diabetics. Diabetics can live a long healthy lifestyle, but when you're 85 years old, you and your spouse may not be in a good position to afford your insurance needs.

Many elderly people use Medicare these days. Unfortunately, Medicare does not offer coverage for long-term expenses. On the other hand, there is Medicaid which does offer coverage on long-term health care but it does not have everything that you will need. This is why it is important to consider purchasing extra long-term insurance. You may not be able to afford it but if you can it will help immensely, and at the time you need it.

This article is not meant to be the bearer of bad news for those of you who are diabetics and do not make enough money to pay for future health costs, but the truth is that most people who cannot afford the extra health care, will have their entire savings eaten up by years and years of paying for the premiums of health insurance. Far too many times the elderly come to the point in their lives when they must drop the premium just before they really needed to use it.

Diabetics face another serious problem when it comes to obtaining health care insurance. That problem is being turned down by most companies that sell long-term insurance. Unfortunately, they will not provide coverage for you if you have an existing disease such as diabetes. There are many cases, however, where working men and women who have diabetes are able to get into a large group coverage plan where there particular sickness is not a factor.

For those of you who are shopping around for long-term insurance companies, below are several questions that you will want to ask before making a decision:

1. First and foremost, ask the company how much of the care expenses will the insurance pay for?

2. Ask them what their “benefit triggers” are. Benefit triggers are physical limitations that initiate your coverage.

3. Find out what levels of care are provided by the policy.

4. Ask the company if the policy is guaranteed to be renewed so that you're able to renew it regardless of whether you use it or not.

5. Find out if a waiver of premiums comes with the policy to ensure that you do not have to pay these premiums in case you become disabled.

Sometimes the best offense against diabetes is a good defense

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What Is The Lemon Law About?

If you are probably asking what is the lemon law, you will be happy to hear that it can be your best friend. We all love our cars and when we get new cars, we cannot wait to show it off to our friends because we are happy. If you have a lemon, your joy will be short lived because, the new vehicle is not what you think it is. A lemon will begin to show signs of being defective and your journeys will be soon cut short. It can be a very frustrating experience and you need something to assure you that all will be alright. Therefore you go to the repair shop and you have a bit of hope when your vehicle is up and running again.

But, it does not take even a week before you experience another problem and now the symptoms of a lemon begin to be seen clearly. A lemon is therefore a defective vehicle that has not served the owner during and after the warranty period. The thing that will surely make you relax is the lemon law. By now, you should have known that a lemon law is a legal bind or entity, to help out those people who have bought defective cars or lemons. The laws enable the lemon owner to have compensation or refund, depending on each particular case. These lemon laws are particularly found in The United States of America and they can be found in virtually every state states.

However, they are not similar and therefore they differ from state to state. Some states cover used cars while others do not. Most cover new cars or leased cars. If you go on the internet and type in 'what is the lemon law', you will certainly get so much information on the topic. Some of the things that you will learn are on how you qualify to make a lemon law claim. You will also see the steps that should be followed so as to achieve your compensation. When you see an attorney, you will get to learn what is the lemon law and this is because there are lawyers dedicated to helping people make their claims.

So many law firms have sites where they advertise their services and if you have reached a stage where you need a personal lawyer, then make sure you hire one that is reputable. There are very many aspects to the lemon law and there are so many laws that are used with the lemon law to make sure that justice has been delivered. It will be good to acquire the knowledge of the lemon laws even if you have never dealt with a lemon. Most people get confused and stressed when a lemon happens to them. You can overcome this by being prepared for anything. Therefore, get searching and know what is the lemon law. Wh0en you have the information, the next time somebody asks what is the lemon law, you can confidently give them an answer
(article by peter gutundu

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Free Auto Insurance Quotes

Free Auto Insurance Quotes - Compare and save on auto insurance!

Most people never expect to be in an automobile accident. However, if it does occur, you want to know that your auto insurance policy covers the following basics:
Liability Coverage
Medical Payment Coverage
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Coverage for Damage to Your Auto
Auto insurance is an important investment. Not only is it required by law, unless you apply with the state as self-insured (usually need to be bonded), but auto insurance can help protect your household and those that might be injured by your car in an accident.
Auto Insurance (Car Insurance) Liability Coverage indemnifies you up to the policy limits. It is protection against damage or bodily damage as a result of a car accident that you are legally responsible for.
Auto Liability Coverage is usually written in this manner:
$50,000 per person for bodily injury
$100,000 per accident for bodily injury
$50,000 per accident for property damage
Medical Payment Coverage covers medical injuries and possible funeral expenses (for you, family members and other passengers in your covered vehicle) that occur as a result of car accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage :
Promises to pay for bodily injury (to the insured, you) caused by a person considered an uninsured motorist (but must meet the state’s definition)
Some states allow you to be indemnified for property damage
This auto insurance coverage may differ from state to state

Coverage for Damage to Your Auto :
Covers physical damage to your car, not owned vehicle or short term rentals
Collision
Other than Collision
Visit http://www.autoinsurance.net.in for free insurance quotes from top providers in your area.

Private Policy

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