spring! The sun is shining. The weather is warm. Time to get outside!
is the best time to renew your love for the great outdoors along with
your love for your family. Get outside and take your loved ones with
you. Here’s some ideas for having fun with your family this
Take the family and go on a picnic. Don’t forget to invite grandma and
grandpa. Picnics are fun for the entire family. In fact, you can reserve
a pavilion at your nearby city, county or state park and have a really
big outing like a family reunion, or BBQ with friends and co-workers.
See our suggestions for outdoor games you can play.
Father and Daughter
/ Father and Son Fishing. Call your friends who have
kids and invite them all to bring the kids and come fishing. You can
give mom a break for the day, and spend some real quality time with your
children. Your friend will thank you. Your wife might even find a way to
thank you too! Don’t forget to pack some snacks or even enough food
for a picnic.
Hike or Nature Walk. It’s always good to get outside,
breathe some fresh air and enjoy nature. And it's even better when you
are active because your body responds to exercise in a positive way.
Hiking and walking are great ways to get in shape, and these are the
kinds of memories that kids never forget.
Family Bike Ride.
Even if you have younger kids, once they're old enough to learn to ride
a bike, you can have fun with them bicycling. Take the kids to a bike
path and ride, ride, ride! Just find
a local park with some riding paths or trails that fit your
family’s level of fitness. What a super way to explore the great
Spring is the perfect time of year to go horseback riding. Many stables
rent horses, offer lessons and instruction, guided trots, and if you are
concerned about safety, they will typically match the horse you get to
your skill level. From moseying along the trail, to galloping in an open
field, not much can top the excitement of this equestrian experience!
Potpourri. You pick and choose what activities and games
your family will enjoy the most! Many of them you can even do together
as a family, right at home, in your comfort zone, out in the back yard.
Here are a handful of ideas you can think about that your kids will
Treasure Hunt(sort of a variation of an Easter Egg hunt)
Clean the Yard
together (find a creative, individualized way to keep it fun; award
points for each job done well, and on time; and offer rewards for
the work; maybe rent them a movie or a video game; or better yet,
bring the kids to the batting cages or out on the golf course for a
job well done)
or Tree Climbing (kids love it, but it's not for
everyone; be careful, and always supervise youngsters)
Flowers (only where permitted, please)
Take a Flora
and Fauna Classat your local nature center or
horticultural club they offer programs for kids of all levels. Some
NPS sites even offer Junior Ranger Summer Camps!
Go Fishing /
Boating(the options are so diverse they're nearly
unlimited: canoeing, rafting, tubing, sailing, paddle boating,
Play an Outdoor
Game - there are many greats; favorites include
active games such as "hide and go seek," "kick the
can," "jailbreak," or "tag."
Showers can be fun too: Re-create warm-weather fun
with easy indoor activities
for Treasure On shamrock-shaped pieces of paper, write
clues -- "Turn left at the rocking chair" or "Take five
steps past the refrigerator" -- that lead your little leprechaun
closer to a pot of gold (aka chocolate coins).
Play in the Sand Make
an indoor sandbox by emptying a large box of oatmeal into a plastic
dishpan. Toss in spoons, cups, and toy cars. (From Gymboree Play
& Music's 365 Activities You and Your Toddler Will Love)
Get Lucky Have
your child find a stone in the yard or at the playground that fits
perfectly in her hand, then let her paint it. Encourage her to carry the
"charm" in her pocket, and tell her that every time she
squeezes it, it will get luckier.
Taste the Rainbow
Buy several packs of Skittles or Life Savers and ask your child
to separate them according to color. Then glue the candies onto poster board
to make a rainbow. (Only for kids over 4)
Be Cheery, Not Dreary
Prepare for spring showers; buy cheap, solid-color umbrellas
and have your kids decorate the outsides with fabric paint. Let dry for
24 hours before closing or taking them out in the rain.
Spring storms can leave you
powerless: How to get insurance for electrical issues
standard home insurance policy will cover the structure of the
building and its contents, liability issues and, often, living
expenses in the event the home is uninhabitable after a
disaster. While a power surge that fries all of a home's
electronics might seem disastrous, policyholders may be
shocked when their insurance providers refuse to pay for
certain electricity-related damage.
Look after electronics
Lightning is typically included as one of the
threats that home insurance policies cover. Lightning strikes
can cause not only physical damage to a home, but can create
power surges that damage electronics as well. Your home
insurance likely will pay for damaged electronics in these
situations. However, there may be a coverage limit per item
damaged by a surge, as well as limits on computer equipment,
according to the Insurance Information Institute. In other
words, the payout you receive may not be enough to replace all
the expensive equipment destroyed by the surge.
Review your policy and be sure you're getting
enough coverage for your electronics. You can increase the
coverage limits on your electronics -- but your premium also
will increase, according to the Insurance Information
Home-based businesses, beware!
limits for electronics can be especially problematic for those
with home-based businesses who rely on technology. After all,
a power surge could damage office machinery and stall business
productivity. A typical power surge can send 500 to 1,000
volts through any cable, line or wire that connects business
equipment to the outside world, according to Nationwide. Power
surges can disrupt software, delete data and destroy circuitry
meant to handle a mere 120 volts, Nationwide points out.
Without sufficient equipment insurance coverage, home-based
business owners would have to foot the bill to repair or
replace damaged equipment.
In many cases, home insurance does not provide
sufficient equipment coverage for home businesses. In fact, it
usually provides no more than $2,500 to replace damaged
equipment, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
However, a home business policy offers comprehensive coverage
for business equipment and files; it also usually includes
business interruption coverage, which pays for lost income if
a home office is damaged so badly that it can't be used.
Power surges can wreak havoc on your
electronics. But power outages can cause even more problems.
When power is off for an extended amount of time, perishable
food can decay and needs to be thrown away. This is especially
frustrating when your refrigerator has been recently stocked.
So can you be compensated for your loss?
According to Massachusetts Office of Consumer
Affairs and Business Regulation, basic home insurance policies
usually do not cover food lost from a power outage, but it's
possible your insurance provider may offer this coverage for
an additional premium. However, the policy may be limited to
cover power losses that occurred only within the home or where
electricity enters the home. In other words, if the source of
the power loss is miles away, you may not be covered.
Then again, American Family Insurance says it
will pay for spoiled food up to a specific limit listed in a
home insurance policy if a covered threat, such as an ice
storm, causes a power outage. According to American Family's
website, food spoilage will be paid for regardless of whether
the source of the power outage was on or away from the
policyholder's property -- and the policy deductible does not
To ensure you're properly insured for
electricity issues, read the fine print in your policy. You
may be surprised what is and isn't covered. For instance,
electrical issues caused by floods or earthquakes are not
covered under your home insurance unless you specifically
purchase coverage against those threats. Also, consider
installing surge protectors to minimize the damage -- and home
Spring Maintenance For Your Home
Once spring has sprung, take some time to give your home a check-up
along with its annual spring-cleaning. Adding these home maintenance tips
to your routine can help your house operate more efficiently.
Outside The House
Check The A/C
Have a qualified HVAC contractor – preferably one that belongs to the
Air Conditioning Contractors of America
– come out to give your air-conditioning system a tune-up. To help lower
your energy bills, do this every year to ensure the system is running at
its manufacturer-rated efficiency. Also make sure to inspect your
system’s condensate drain hose, especially if you live in a humid
climate. This hose could become clogged with algae and sediment, and your
contractor may charge you more to clean it out. Avoid this extra cost by
checking the hose periodically yourself. Use a wet-vac to suction any
blockage out from it.
Roofs And Gutters
The hot summer sun can quickly damage a roof’s shingles, so you may
want to call a contractor if you haven’t inspected your roof in several
years. Clean out the leaves and other debris that have collected in them.
Then check to see if the gutters are safely attached and haven’t sprung
any leaks. Also, make sure that downspouts direct water away from the
house’s foundation, to prevent a potential basement flood.
Right The Foundation
For further basement flood protection, inspect the foundation around
your house before the spring rains. Look for cracks or imperfections, and
seal them or call a contractor if necessary. Also look for low areas in
the yard near the foundation that might pool water during a heavy rain.
Level these yard depressions by filling them with compacted soil. Tend to
any other “ponding” areas around the yard, too, because after a hard
rain, standing water can develop. These puddles can be a breeding ground
Seal The Deck
If you have a patio deck, inspect the wood for stains, discolorations,
or warping. If you find any, consider resealing the deck. To verify that
your old application still works, pour some water onto the dry deck and
check to see that it beads up. Most deck-sealer manufacturers recommend
resealing annually, but if there are no immediate problems worth
addressing, you can likely wait until the following spring to reseal.
Check for any sharp edges, splintered wood, or rotting wood. Also look for
rusting nails or any nails that are coming out or weakening their
connections. And be sure to check the railings and stairs to make sure
they are secure and not wobbly.
Ready The Soil
Spring is the season to prepare for new growth in your garden. Rake
beds of leaves and other leftover winter debris. Use a hoe to churn and
loosen the soil, and mix in compost for nutrients. If you’ll be planting
new seeds, follow the instructions provided on the seed packet for the
Inside The House
The Water Heater
Look around the base of your water heater for evidence of leaks. The
average lifespan of a water heater is 8-12 years. If your water heater is
over 5 years old, it should be checked monthly for any leakage or rusting
at the bottom. If water leakage or rust is found, the water heater should
be replaced. If you live in an area with particularly hard water, you may
need to drain your water heater because of the sediment buildup in the
The Basement And Attic
Does your attic or basement smell musty? If you have an attic, check it
for leaks from the roof. Inspect the underside of the roof and the
insulation closely for any discoloration, deterioration or dirt stains, as
the leaking water might have dried up.
Check the basement walls, floor, and trim for water stains or any signs
of seepage through the foundation. There are a number of flooding causes.
While you’re down there, keep a close eye on your sump pump, making sure
it is still in good working order, and has a battery backup in place if
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Coping with Springtime Allergies: Learn more about seasonal allergies and keep your family safe and
healthy this Spring.
The flowers are beginning to bloom and spring is in the air. For seasonal
allergy sufferers, springtime can be a time of sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes,
runny noses and other symptoms caused by pollens, grasses, dust mites and molds.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates that more than
40 million people are affected by seasonal allergies. Besides medication and
limiting your time outside during peak pollen times, there are a number of steps
you can take to ensure you’ll be feeling healthy enough to “stop and smell
If you're like most people, springtime is a welcome visitor after
dealing with the snow, sleet, and ice of winter. However, for
allergy sufferers, springtime isn't always something to look forward
to. Flowers start to bloom, grass and weeds come back to life, and
allergy season kicks into high gear. You know the symptoms:
Where do they come from?
One of the most common seasonal allergies is hay fever. The culprits
that cause this allergy are allergens such as ragweed, pollen, and
grass. Many people also suffer from allergies to pets, dust, and
certain foods, but typically these allergies are not affected by
What's age got to do with it?
You may be surprised to learn that allergies can surface at any age.
If you've made it through your 30s, 40s, or 50s allergy free, you
may think that you're in the clear. However, just as children can
outgrow their allergies as they get older, adults can develop
allergies later in life.
How can I get rid of them?
If you know you suffer from allergies or you suspect that your
annual springtime cold is actually an allergy, talk to your doctor.
Your medical provider can analyze your symptoms and work with you to
find the best way to relieve your symptoms. Doctors regularly
prescribe antihistamines and decongestants to treat allergies.
Although antihistamines have been known to cause drowsiness, many
prescription medications are available that can make you feel better
without putting you to sleep.
In addition to medication, you can take the following steps to
limit your exposure to the allergens causing your misery:
Pollen counts soar in the early
morning and evening
hours--plan your outings accordingly.
Keep pollen from getting indoors. Close your windows and turn
on the air conditioning.
Avoid exposure to freshly mowed grass--find someone else to
mow the lawn.
Remember that pollen clings to hair and clothing. Try not to
bring it with you when you go indoors.
Will my health insurance pay for treatment?
Most insurers will pay for medical care associated with allergy
treatment. However, you should check with your insurance
company before seeking treatment to be sure that you're covered.
If you follow the guidelines set by your insurance company, you
shouldn't have any problems. For example, if you belong to an HMO,
you're required to get a referral from your primary care provider
before seeing an allergist.
Keep windows closed and use air conditioning – This keeps pollen from
blowing into your home, floating in the air, and adhering to the curtains,
furniture, carpet, etc. Air conditioning provides a comfortable temperature
and reduces airborne allergens.
Use HEPA filters and air purifiers – By maintaining the air quality in
your home, you will have a comfortable environment that keeps your allergies
under control. Filters should be cleaned regularly.
Maintain a clean home – Dust furniture and clean floors to reduce dust
particles, pet dander and mold, which can aggravate allergies.
Wash bedding and linens in hot water – Bedding, curtains and towels
should be laundered at a temperature of 130 degrees or higher. Use the dryer
rather than hanging laundry outdoors where pollen can stick to fabrics.
Vacuum your home regularly – Removing allergens from carpets and
furniture can greatly improve the quality of air. Some vacuum cleaners have
HEPA filters to further remove microparticles, including dust mites.
Clean and brush pets – Regularly washing and brushing pets can remove
dander and loose hair, which can intensify allergies. Any animal bedding
should be washed weekly.
With these helpful hints, you can enjoy the spring weather without your
allergies getting the best of you. A reliable health plan will also help to
ensure your family will have access to the physicians and medications they need
to enjoy the season.
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Check Flood Insurance Before Heavy Spring Rains
“Heavy spring rain could lead to a very wet spring
season in the most flood-prone areas.
“Consumers should thoroughly identify the limits and
benefits of a policy before damage occurs and know that flood insurance coverage, which is not
included in a standard homeowner or renter policy, is usually not effective for 30 days.”
Springtime is a visible reminder that floods are the most
common natural disaster in the U.S. – and one of the most expensive.
Call your insurance
agent or company to inquire about the availability of flood insurance in your area. Keep in mind that flood insurance becomes
effective 30 days after it is purchased, so the sooner you talk to your insurance agent
or company the better.
The average flood
insurance policy costs a little more than $400 per year for about $100,000 of coverage. The actual cost to you will depend
on where you live and the amount of coverage you choose.
coverage does not typically cover damage resulting from sewer backups or sump pump issues. Ask your insurance agent or company
if such additional coverage is appropriate to add to your policy.
There are steps you
can take before a disaster strikes to make it easier to file and recover insurance claims. For example, homeowners or
renters should take an inventory of their personal property and make photocopies of their
insurance policies, keeping all such important papers in a secure
location away from home. Taking pictures of various rooms and their
contents is also a great way to document the contents. A sample home
inventory sheet is available at the Department’s website or by
For more information on the availability of flood
insurance in your area, and for additional tips on preparing for a flood,
call the National Flood Insurance Program at (800) 638-6620 or visit
NFIP’s Web site at www.floodsmart.gov.
Tips for Springtime Senior Fun
Springtime is right around the corner! Make the most of it with your
aging loved one by following these simple steps:
Commit to a Healthy Routine
Daylight-savings time is the perfect excuse to make overdue
adjustments to your sleep, exercise and mealtime routines. Instead of
viewing this springtime tradition as an “interruption” to the
daily schedule, be proactive. Help your senior avoid stress by making
a list of the essential time-based routines, such as doctor’s visits
and medication schedule, and then turn your attention to fun ways that
you can use the extra hours of sunlight. Invite the whole family to
discuss their ideas, write them down and post them on the
Reconnect With the Outdoors and Each Other
If your senior is mobile (either walking or in a wheelchair), take
a walk together and notice the changing season. If they are unable to
leave the house, hang a bird feeder in the window and station yourself
together with a pair of binoculars. Take a moment to relax and catch
up over a cup of tea on the porch, or next to an open window. Feeling
the warmth of sun on your face is a mood booster (sunshine and mood
are positively correlated). When the sun is shining and weather is
warm, people tend to be happier. Whether it’s a family member,
neighbor or church member, take this time to enjoy the changing
weather and each other’s company.
Lose the Clutter
Follow Mother Nature’s lead by replacing snow and frost (dirt and
dust) with green (clean). Forced air heaters and closed windows can
trap dust and dirt indoors. A deep housekeeping – including tasks
such as shampooing the carpets, wiping down the walls and cleaning out
the fridge – can help create a healthier home environment for
seniors. While you’re in cleaning mode, be sure to tackle the
clutter inside of closets, pantries, stairways and storage areas,
which can present safety hazards for the elderly, who are at risk for
tripping and falling. Donate items that haven’t been used in awhile,
or organize a yard sale. Download the Homewatch CareGiversGuide
to In-Home Senior Safety(PDF) for more information.
Gardening offers a therapeutic connection to nature, and growing
your own produce puts you in control of a healthy diet. Sit down and
plan a garden together. Have fun reminiscing about the types of
vegetables, flowers and herbs that your family loves. Consider the
best place for planting — perhaps moving the herb garden to an
inside windowsill and tomatoes to a pot on the porch will make plant
care and maintenance easier for your senior. Request catalogues and
mail order seeds if you’re too busy or unable to visit the local
nursery. If you’re planning a spring break visit to distant
relatives, digging and preparing the garden can be a fulfilling
cross-generational activity (be sure to pack your best work clothes!).
Planting flowers in the yard creates a sense of pride and beautifies
Springtime Means Rain, Hail and Tornadoes in South Central States
Spring is here and with it comes unstable weather conditions that can
cause problems for consumers and agents alike in the South Central region of
the United States. As if ushering in the season, insurers and insurance
organizations are busy issuing reminders to agents on how they can help
their insureds protect themselves and their property from nature’s annual
Tornadoes, floods … even hurricanes
An Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) consumer advisory recommends
early Spring as a good time to review policies to make sure that property
and belongings are adequately insured for natural disasters such as
tornadoes, floods, hail storms and even the start of hurricane season.
The I.I.I. noted that according to Insurance Services Office Inc. (ISO)
figures, natural disasters in 39 states caused nearly $13 billion in damages
Standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage from most natural
disasters, such as windstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, lightening and hail,
in addition to fire and other perils. However, they do not cover damage from
two major types of natural disasters: flood and earthquake, which require
the purchase of separate policies for coverage.
Homeowners insurance covers damage to both the structure of the home and
personal belongings. In addition, it pays the cost of additional living
expenses if the home is rendered unlivable by an insured disaster.
Coverage for property damage and additional living expenses is available
under renters, condo/co-op and mobile home policies.
Things to consider when reviewing a policy to determine if coverage is
adequate include any remodeling or new additions to the home, as well as
rising construction costs.
The I.I.I. also reminded consumers to inventory personal items in the
home, such as furniture, clothing, electronic equipment and jewelry. Such an
inventory will help in determining the correct amount of insurance needed.
It also helps settle an insurance claim faster and can be used to verify
un-reimbursed losses on an income tax return.
Since homeowners policies don’t cover flooding, property located in a
Special Flood Hazard Area needs flood insurance. Lenders on such property
usually require it. Flood insurance covers direct physical losses by flood
and losses resulting from flood-related erosion caused by waves or currents
of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels and accompanying a severe
storm, flash flood, abnormal tide surge or a similar situation that results
Mudflows are covered under the National Flood Insurance Program; however,
landslides are not.
Coverage for the structure and contents of the home are sold separately.
Buildings and structures are covered for replacement cost but content
coverage is available on an actual cash value basis only. There may be
limits on coverage for furniture and other possessions stored in a basement.
The I.I.I. said that if a home is at risk for flooding, coverage should
be purchased as soon as possible, as there is a 30-day waiting period before
coverage takes effect. The policy is provided by the Federal Flood Insurance
Program and is only available where the local government has adopted
adequate flood plain management regulations.
Cars and hail don’t mix
From Progressive Insurance: “Imagine a baseball dropped from an airplane
flying at 30,000 feet; now, imagine that baseball reaching speeds of 120 mph
as it falls to the ground and lands on a car! For drivers in and around Hail
Alley, a string of southern and central Plains states that includes
Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, the
possibility of baseball-sized hail damaging their car is not
unimaginable—it’s a reality.”
According to Progressive, the cost of hail damage to property in the
United States reaches $1 billion yearly.
“Specifically in the Hail Alley states, agents can help consumers
better understand the coverage and cost effective repair options that will
protect them in the event of a hailstorm,” Tom Kaschalk, claims manager
with the Progressive group of insurance companies, stated.
He added that agents should let their customers know “that the average
cost to repair a hail-damaged vehicle over the past five years was more than
By reviewing the repair options available, agents can help their
customers save money and keep the cost of auto insurance down for everyone.
Repair technicians often recommend a repair process called paintless dent
removal (PDR) to restore hail-damaged vehicles to their pre-accident
condition. PDR involves using specially molded metal tools on the underside
of a damaged part to repair dents without disturbing the car’s factory
finish. In fact, this method is often used by car manufacturers and dealers
to repair new vehicles and will not invalidate paint warranties.
The Progressive bulletin pointed out, however, that PDR is not for all
types of hail damage. For instance, it is not appropriate if dents are too
large or frequent, or if the paint finish is damaged. Prior body damage that
required plastic fillers or bonding may also make PDR difficult.
Progressive recommended that agents encourage customers who have
experienced hailstorm damage to take the following
Call their insurance company immediately to report the damage.
Prevent further damage by covering broken windows to protect the car’s
interior, and carefully removing the glass to prevent cuts and damage to the
upholstery and carpets.
Discuss the repair with the agent, insurance company and/or body shop to
determine whether PDR is appropriate or if another restoration method should
Find a reputable facility. The insurance company may be able to
recommend a provider.
Find out how long the repair will take. PDR repairs may be completed
within a day. However, repairs may take longer if a large number of cars
were damaged in the same hailstorm.
Ask the repair shop if it guarantees its work. Know how the body shop
will handle any problems remaining with the vehicle after the repair. A flaw
in the vehicle’s repair should be fixed at no additional charge. Get
guarantee and contact information in writing.
Make sure the repairs are satisfactory. Before accepting the vehicle,
look at the surface under fluorescent lighting and from several angles so
that all the details can be seen. Check for any remaining dents before
taking the vehicle home.
Certified Foreclosure Prevention And Loan Modification Counseling
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If your circumstances have changed recently—a wedding, new baby, redundancy or divorce for example, you may not be aware of help
that could be available to you.
Call and make an appointment.
Find out what you are entitled to. All counseling is completely confidential.
Did You Know
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Free Notary Services to all current clients and their friends and family.
Factors that may affect your Auto Insurance premium are:
Previous Insurance Coverage
The Vehicle Type
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newsletter is taken from sources that are believed to be reliable.
However, this newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal,
financial, or professional counsel.