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Smart Buying

Lose Your Job, Get Some Breaks

To entice you to buy, businesses promise to cover your bills.

Lots of us are worried about job security these days. But retailers and service purveyors still want you to open your wallet. So they're willing to provide some peace of mind: Many are offering special guarantees to help buyers cover their payments if they later lose their job.

Hyundai was among the first. The carmaker's Assurance program will let you return a new car if you lose your job within 12 months of buying or leasing it. And the company will forgive up to $7,500 in depreciation.

Homebuilders and real estate agents are also eager to reassure reluctant buyers. CraftMaster Homes, of Richmond, Va., will pay for a year's worth of mortgage insurance that promises to pay you up to $1,500 a month for up to six months if you lose your job. Long & Foster's Job Loss Protection program, paid for by home sellers who list with the company, will cover up to $1,800 a month in mortgage payments for six months if you lose your job within two years of purchase.

Among travel companies, JetBlue was considering extending its offer, originally set to expire June 1, to give cash refunds to ticket holders who lose their job before their travel date. Normally you'd pay $100 in cancellation fees and get the refund in vouchers. Cell-phone users might appreciate Virgin Mobile's Pink Slip Protection program, which makes three months of payments for users on a monthly plan who've lost a job.

The guarantees aren't all about retail shopping. Walgreens is offering free health-care services at its Take Care Clinics throughout 2009 to families that suffer a job loss and have no health insurance.