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Your Smart Phone Can Make Your Insurance Plans Smarter
It seems like there's an app for everything these days. Insurance is no exception.

With a helpful app, you can enhance your insurance coverage with additional features and convenience. Using the right app can keep your policies organized and allow you to prepare for situations that require claims.

For example, do you have an evacuation plan in place that your family can use if disaster strikes? An app can help you plan ahead so everyone knows what to do and where to go during a natural catastrophe.

Develop the plan in your app, then share it with family and friends. Preloaded checklists and preparation steps offer guided tools to assist you.

An insurance app can also keep all your policy and carrier information organized and easily accessible. If you need to file a claim, use simple guides to walk you through the process and track your progress.

As with most apps, a host of options is available. The Insurance Information Institute recommends the Know Your Plan mobile app, which offers disaster preparation. This award-winning app allows you to use premade lists or create your own, make notes, and share these digital documents with others.

Your insurance provider may also offer an app specific to your coverage. Common features for these apps include digital insurance ID cards, virtual assistance, and bill pay options.


Can You Become a Millionaire by Brown-Bagging It?
Eating out during the work or school day is undeniably convenient. There's no scrounging in the cupboards for something to prepare, searching for forks when you forgot yours at home, or eating cold spaghetti when the office microwave is out of order.

But what's better than convenience? Keeping money in your wallet.

The fact that packing lunch is cheaper than buying lunch isn't surprising. What is surprising is just how much money you can save by brown-bagging it. In fact, some simple math might be enough to convince you to do away with takeout lunches permanently.

Let's say your preferred takeout lunch is a deli sandwich with a drink. With taxes, your total is about $10. If that's your lunch choice five days out of seven, you're spending $50 a week, $200 a month, $2,600 each year.

What if you make that same sandwich at home? Maybe the ingredients (a loaf of bread, cheese, and sliced meat) cost you $15 up front, and they make about five sandwiches. Now your cost is $3 per sandwich, for a total of $15 a week, $60 a month, $780 a year. That's a yearly savings of $1,820!

There's another kind of savings that comes with bringing your own lunch: calories. While how many calories you can save depends on what you choose to bring, home-cooked meals are typically more healthful than takeout is.

No, this lunch switch won't make you a millionaire. Still, with fewer calories and lower cost, all these savings might make that brown bag look more enticing.

Need a Tip on How Much You Should Tip?
Should you tip them or simply say thank you? Discerning when to tip and how much can be stressful. Thankfully, there are generally accepted practices you can adhere to that will make this task easier.

Food and drink: For food delivery, tip $2-$4. For bartenders, tip them $1 per drink. Tip restaurant servers 15-20 percent of the bill.

Travel: Expect to give those who carry your bags, whether porters at airports or bellhops, $1 or $2 for each item. At hotels, pay special attention to the housekeeping staff. Your tip should reflect the quality of the hotel; the more expensive the accommodations, the greater the tip. Also, tip each day. The housekeeping staff may change during your time there. Lastly, read bills for room service carefully before tipping. Additional "service charges" don't cover the tip, but a "gratuity" does.

Holidays: If you have a nanny or housekeeper, an appropriate holiday bonus is equivalent to one week's pay. Be especially generous to the person who delivers newspapers. Keep in mind that adults, not children, are doing that job now.

Optional tip: There are times when tipping is optional. It doesn't hurt to give a barista some spare change as a tip, but it's not required. You don't need to tip someone who wraps your gifts, but it might be a nice gesture.

No tip: Not every service requires a tip. House sitters, grocery store baggers, cable installers, sports instructors, and Fed Ex delivery personnel are among the individuals who are exempt from tips.

Seasonal Hazards, What?

As temperatures drop and holiday activities pick up speed, insurance claims can spike. Want to keep your family and property as safe as possible through the winter and beyond? Here’s what to keep in mind.

Fire Prevention

Heaters, candles and decorations help to make the season cozy and bright. Unfortunately, all three can increase your risk of a home fire.

Reduce the chance of a mishap by keeping anything combustible at least 12 inches away from heat sources or open flames. And of course, be sure to extinguish candles and turn off space heaters when no one is around to monitor them.

Break-In Deterrents

If you’re heading out for a day of shopping, make sure your vehicle and your home are secure by locking all doors and windows, keeping valuables out of sight and making use of smart safety technology.

Shopping online? Have packages shipped to you at work or ask a stay-at-home neighbor to collect them from your doorstep soon after they arrive.

Road Safety

Now’s also the time we start seeing an uptick in traffic volume and accidents. Between busy holiday travel days and possible inclement weather, drivers have a lot to watch out for.

Here are some reminders to help you avoid an accident:

  • Don’t text or try to multitask while behind the wheel.
  • Don’t use cruise control when the weather is icy or snowy.
  • Prevent skids by gradually accelerating and decelerating.
  • Leave plenty of space between you and other vehicles when you can.

Practicing good sense at home and on the road means you’ll have less to worry about and more time to spend with your loved ones.

Is Insurance Cheaper If I Buy or Lease a Car?
An automobile is a significant investment. In addition to the sticker price, consumers must consider all the other costs associated with car ownership.

With this in mind, you may wonder whether you are better off buying or leasing a car.

When it comes to insurance, your total premium is not typically affected by your decision to buy or lease. For the same car, your insurance will cost the same whether you own it or lease it.

Why? The rates are based on your driving record and the car itself, not how you purchase the car.

However, your ownership arrangement may affect how the insurance is set up. If you lease a car, the lender has an interest in the vehicle. Because of this, they will require that you add them to your insurance policy. If their name is on the coverage, and a claim is made, they will be able to receive payment for the portion they are still owed on the vehicle.

Other than this stipulation, obtaining insurance on a leased car follows the same procedures as an owned vehicle. Your coverage and insurance options should remain the same.

Where you will see a difference in premium quotes is among various vehicle options. If you want to lease a brand-new car, your premiums will probably be higher than if you purchase an older model. Keep in mind that the difference in premium has to do with the condition of the car and the cost to make repairs, rather than the lease option.

Because premiums can vary greatly based on the car, it's a good idea to get a quote from your insurance agent before purchasing or leasing any vehicle. You don't want to be surprised by any costs after you've already completed the paperwork to buy or lease your new ride.

To ensure the car is within your budget, consult with your insurance agent before you sign on the dotted line. Your insurance provider can answer any questions you have about coverage for a specific car you might be considering for purchase or lease. Contact them for details.

Is Your Home - and Your Family - Really Safe?
Home is truly where the heart is, but that doesn't stop accidents, fires or thefts from happening at home.

Discover how to keep your property and your loved ones out of harm's way by requesting my free guide, "Three Ways to Keep Your Home - And Your Family - Safe."
Just reply to this email and I'll send it right out to you.

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Apricot Rosemary Pork Chops
The holidays were frantic. Here's something simple for post-holiday meals.
Serves 4
4 8-ounce, bone-in pork chops
Salt and pepper to taste
4 teaspoons apricot jam
1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides and place them on prepared baking sheet. Spread one teaspoon of jam on one side of each chop.

Combine breadcrumbs, rosemary, and olive oil, and sprinkle mixture over chops, gently pressing into the jam.

Bake until crust is golden and internal temperature reaches 150 degrees - about 15 minutes.

Drizzle with more olive oil and sea salt before serving.
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.

Posted 12:18 PM

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NOTICE: This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state. By using this blog site you understand that there is no broker client relationship between you and the blog and website publisher.
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