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From the Editor

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way about the topic of one of our articles.

About two years ago, when we purchased the home that we're renovating, we did the obligatory tasks that every aspiring homeowner has to complete. One of these things, as you all know, is to purchase a homeowners insurance policy.

Not knowing anyone in the local area that could provide such a policy, we thumbed through the Yellow Pages, found an agent who worked with a big, well-known insurance company (we'll call the company "National Insurance"), and started the process of getting our home and belongings covered. Everything looked great, and the price he quoted was even better. We sent our check, closed on the house, and started to get to work on the home of our dreams.

Weeks passed, and no insurance paperwork arrived. A few calls were made, and our agent assured us that everything was fine. Then weeks turned into months. Our agent became less and less accessible by phone, and the excuses became more and more frequent. Finally, we called National Insurance to check on the policy we had through them. They had never heard of us, and they had certainly never heard of our agent. Although we had that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs that grew with every passing day, this was the day of reckoning. The next day we had a new insurance policy — this time with an actual insurance agent.

After the fact, we contacted the state insurance advocacy group, state insurance commissioner's office and the Better Business Bureau, only to find that the man who had posed as an agent wasn't, and that he was long gone.

It's kind of an embarrassing story to relate, but if it saves just one person or business out there from getting swindled — or worse, left with an insurance claim that isn't covered — then obviously it's all worth it. We made a few naïve mistakes during the process, but according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners study on page 40, we aren't the only ones.

We have several other interesting articles in store for you this month.

Stephen Ward joins us from Cintec International in Newport, Wales of the United Kingdom to discuss various ways of retrofitting masonry to withstand explosions (pg. 24). Cintec has become one of the leaders in this type of retrofitting, having completed work on Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, the Australian Parliament building, the Canadian Parliament, and part of the White House complex.

We also give you a peak into some new items from this year's shows, specifically handheld saws and mortar mixers (pg. 16 and 32).

Congressman Eric Cantor, Chief Deputy Majority Whip, discusses the challenges that lie ahead for not only Congress, but also the masonry industry and other trades (pg. 8).

Tim Hughes, one of our resident legal eagles, gives some guidance on how to be proactive with your "political" relationships so that problems can be smoothed out, rather than roughed up (pg. 38).

We also have the fabulous work from the 2004 Arizona Masonry Guild Awards (pg. 36).




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