News You Can Use
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.
Ensure Your Special Items Receive Special
Even though your homeowners insurance allows you to pick an amount of coverage for personal property - your personal belongings inside the home - you may be surprised that your policy includes limits on certain items; most are higher-end items, such as cameras, electronic equipment, guns, and jewelry.
So, if you buy a policy with $50,000 in personal property coverage, there are still limits on what your insurer will pay to replace or repair these items. Often the limits read as, "$500 limit on guns" or "$1,000 limit on computers." So, if you experience a total loss and file a claim, your $50,000 in personal property coverage still only covers up to the policy's limits on these specific items.
The peace-of-mind solution
Talk to your agent and make sure you feel comfortable with the policy you are buying.
You should discuss with him or her additional riders that are available and describe or show any special items you own, such as collectibles, jewelry, or artwork. With some insurers, the rider can be added so you can obtain more coverage, or you can schedule the items at a stated value or appraisal cost. For special items, it may be best to buy a special policy, which is like a spin-off from a homeowners policy and provides coverage for just those items you choose. Be aware that you'll have to provide appraisals to ensure adequate coverage, and that you should always have your special items appraised regularly to maintain adequate coverage in the event the items increase in value.
Each month I'll give you a new question. Just reply to this email for the answer.
Which well-known horror writer was seriously injured in a car accident in 1999?
Recipe: Sweet Pepper and Basil Risotto
Serves 4, and rings in a special New Year.
4 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups seeded and chopped red bell pepper
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
Heat stock in a saucepan and keep at a simmer. Heat olive oil in a large pot; saute onion, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Add peppers, season, and continue cooking until softened. Add rice, stir to coat with oil, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Add wine, and stir until almost completely evaporated. Add heated stock about half a cup at a time while stirring until liquid is mostly absorbed.
Continue stirring and adding broth for 20-25 minutes until rice is al dente. Add the cheeses, and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in shredded basil. Serve immediately.
What's Ahead in Coffee Trends? Read the Grounds
If you can't start your day without a cup of freshly brewed java, the National
Coffee Association (NCA) is happy to hear it. They're the folks who study coffee-drinking trends and report their findings to everyone in the industry - from growers to baristas.
According to Daily Coffee News, an NCA 2014 study found that "daily consumption of gourmet coffee among adults is up to 34 percent, a 3 percent rise over last year." The report goes on to say, "Twenty-nine percent of respondents who drank coffee within the past day said they used a single-cup brewer, up nearly 50 percent from last year," a statistic that bodes well for Bosch Tassimo, Keurig, Nespresso, and other coffee equipment manufacturers across the globe.
Apparently, coffee is hot news: There are coffee blogs, coffee magazines, and coffee books. Everyone has their favorite coffee house, and North America may even beat out Europe in celebrating coffee-drinking as a daily ritual.
But most notably, the latest medical studies now debunk the myths and promote the health benefits of the brew. The Caffeine Informer notes a Harvard University report confirming the results of the ground-breaking Framingham Heart Study. This study showed "no significant relationship between caffeine consumption and development of stroke or cardiovascular disease." In fact, we learn that for most people, coffee is not only not unhealthy, it's downright good for you - up to four cups a day.
Last year, coffee consumption moved from cultural phenomenon to health promoter. So what will 2015 bring? Read the grounds.
This month, some famous quotes on the topic of gifts:
Size Matters When You're Waist Watching
The secret to keeping next year's resolution to eat better may not be the food in your refrigerator, but the refrigerator itself. When people keep more food in their homes, they're likely to eat more. And refrigerator-freezers provide ample space to store those not-so-wholesome goodies.
According to a New York Times report, the average North American refrigerator has about a volume of 17.5 cubic feet (roughly 500 liters). But most current models have volumes of 25 cubic feet (roughly 700 liters). This doesn't mean the people who have larger refrigerators are larger, notes author and Professor Brian Wansink, who has written about the subtle things that affect people's eating habits. But buyers should show caution when purchasing new kitchen appliances. Avoid models where the fridge and freezer compartments open side-by-side; they give a view of both healthy and unhealthy options. And most of us would pass up carrots for ice cream, given that choice.
One of the best suggestions may also be one of the most frugal: place clear containers or plastic bags of cut veggies and fruit slices on the refrigerator shelf; you won't have to dig through the crisper for the good stuff.
Buying Car Insurance? Avoid These 5 Mistakes
When buying car insurance, many people think they know what they're doing, but are unaware of some of the misconceptions they hold that may lead to some serious mistakes.
This is particularly true when buying coverage without professional guidance. Your agent is a great resource in helping you avoid the following five common mistakes made when buying auto insurance.
Assuming state minimum liability limits are sufficient: Everyone likes to save money, but you need to balance that with ensuring you are getting adequate protection. State minimums are not enough. For the extra, say, $10 you save by paying only for state minimum coverage, you may risk being underinsured and facing $300,000 in out-of-pocket costs as a result.
Raising deductibles to $1,000 to save $10: Unless you're a high-risk driver who is paying thousands of dollars for full coverage, increasing your deductibles - particularly comprehensive deductibles - won't pay. Reserve that major choice in case you should have a major violation or a series of accidents and tickets.
Leaving out information about household drivers: Sometimes you just don't think: You might believe you can save by not mentioning household drivers who would likely generate higher premiums. In fact, you're actually opening yourself up to denied claims or a felony charge for insurance fraud.
Buying collision coverage for a 10-year-old car: Unless it's a stated value classic or custom car, you don't need to pay full coverage for damage to your vehicle. Effectively, you may be paying more in premiums than the car's worth. The best rule of thumb: Once annual premiums for full coverage are over 10 percent of current value, drop your collision coverage.
Not insuring custom parts or modifications: If you've sunk $10,000 on rims, tinted windows, top-of-the-line stereo systems and chrome, you need to protect your investment. Some policies may cover up to $2,500 in custom parts, but that's obviously insufficient.
Each day provides its own gifts.
To be able to speak and be able to have clarity and to be able to think. Those are the greatest of gifts.
One of the greatest gifts my father gave me - unintentionally – was witnessing the courage with which he bore adversity.
Try not to get lost in comparing yourself to others. Discover your gifts and let them shine!
You have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them, for conceit spoils the finest genius.
Louisa May Alcott
Technology...is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.