If a Tree Falls on My House, Does It Make a Sound?
Yes, but the sound of a falling tree won't be as loud if you have insurance coverage - that is, the damage will have a more tranquil effect on your checking account if you're insured.
Fortunately, your standard homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for the home and any contents damaged by a tree felled by wind, lightning, or hail.
What if it's my neighbor's tree? This typically does not matter. If your house is damaged by a tree, you should file a claim with your insurer. If the insurance company determines the tree fell due to neglect, it may attempt to collect from your neighbor's insurance company. If successful, the company may reimburse you for your deductible.
Do I have to pay for removal of the tree? If the tree has hit your house or another structure, your policy usually covers the cost of removing the tree, up to a certain limit. If the structure it hit was not insured, generally you'll have to pay for removal costs. A common exception is the blockage of a driveway or handicap ramp. If this is the case, the insurance company may pay for removal.
What about my beautiful plants? Fortunately, your lovely rosebushes are covered, too. If fire, lightning, explosion, theft, or vandalism damages a tree itself or other shrubs and plants, your homeowners insurance usually covers this as well. The limit is generally 5 percent of the insured amount on the home and is typically capped at $500 for any one plant.
Honor Valentine's Day with a Special Date Night
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with dinner and a movie - it's a classic for a reason - why not switch it up with something different on your next date?
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, here are some ideas for that special date night. Couples can build anticipation for date night by creating Valentine's Day advent-calendar type excitement.
Pictilio.com suggests filling fourteen envelopes with handwritten instructions for each day, like: "For a day, instead of texting, let's send each other videos." The lead-up to date night may have you falling in love with your partner all over again and can make the night that much more special.
Have other couples as friends? Try having an Amazing Race-style competition.
Half the couples will come up with the challenges and clues, while their partners are expected to run the race. The clues can lead the racers to meaningful places around the city, where they complete challenges like purchasing a gift for one's partner using only the funds provided.
Once all the clues have been read and the challenges completed, why not greet the racers at the final pit stop with a hot, home-cooked meal courtesy of their partners?
Date nights don't have to be confined to the evening hours. For the more rebellious couple, playing hooky and taking the day off from work together can give a boost to the relationship.
Couples could spend the whole day relaxing and enjoying each other's company without the usual stresses of life.
If you're short on time or cash, planning a special date night doesn't have to be over-the-top. Just trying something new could be extra special: take a haunted tour of your city, indulge in a food-tasting adventure, or stay up to watch the sunrise together.
In the end, it doesn't really matter what you do-it's whom you're with that matters.
Peckish? Sallow? It May be Lack of ZZZs
Incessant yawning and low energy are telltale signs of needing more sleep, but they're not the only clues. According to Joseph M. Ojile, medical director at the Clayton Sleep Institute, there are other, less obvious signs of sleep deprivation:
Illness. Sleep debt can weaken your immune system, making it hard to fight off common illnesses like colds. When your body is otherwise healthy, it's better able to fight off germs. If you're sleep deprived, you might find yourself in a cycle of recovering only to very quickly get sick again.
Snacking. When you don't get enough sleep, your body will try to find its energy from other sources-like food. Studies have shown that insufficient sleep can increase levels of ghrelin, the hunger-causing hormone.
Skin issues. Your skin needs adequate sleep to look its best. If your complexion looks a bit sallow these days, it could be the result of poor sleep.
Mood swings. Feeling irritable? Easily annoyed by small things you usually can shrug off? Maybe you're not catching enough Z's. You also might find yourself hard-pressed to make simple decisions or formulate a plan.
How to Protect Your Valentine Sparkler
Sweethearts can spend around $4.4 billion on diamonds, gold, and silver each Valentine's Day.
From silver rings to diamond earrings to gold bracelets, these tokens of love come in many forms, often accompanied by a proposal.
If you are the recipient of one of these precious gifts, it's important to take appropriate steps to safeguard your new treasure.
Check your insurance. Typically, homeowners and renters insurance policies cover jewelry. However, it's important to check your specific policy for limitations. Your recent gift may out-dazzle your coverage. In that case, a floater or an endorsement may be a necessary addition to your policy to provide appropriate coverage. This can also include a "mysterious disappearance" clause, in case your new sparkler is ever lost.
Update your inventory. Don't forget to add this item to your list of personal possessions. An inventory of your home's contents can prove a lifesaver in the event you need to file a claim.
Have it appraised. This is especially important if the item is a family heirloom. Establishing its current value will help determine the amount of insurance needed and how much reimbursement you should receive if you file a claim. Your insurance agent, who knows you and your situation, should be able to recommend a trusted appraiser.
Store it securely. A jewelry box may not be the best option. For valuable pieces, a home safe or another secure location in the house is a good idea. You may even want to consider storing the item in a bank safe-deposit box if it will not be worn regularly.
Store it digitally. Take a picture of the gift. This can help with the claims process and provide helpful detail to your inventory list, especially if the piece is unique.
Your insurance professional can be your best friend in advising on coverage for your sparkler...and will likely extend congratulations, too!
What You Need to Know Before Buying Homeowners Insurance
What You Need to Know Before Buying Homeowners Insurance Buying a home is the biggest investment you'll ever make. With that kind of commitment, you owe it to yourself to protect it. Before you make a decision on which policy to buy, it pays to be informed. Get up to speed by requesting my free guide, "What You Need to Know Before Buying Homeowners Insurance."
Each month I'll give you a new question.
What does the word "Canada" mean?
Recipe: Quick and Decadent Dark Chocolate Mousse
This romantic dessert is a perfect finale for a Valentine's Day dinner. It yields 3 cups of mousse.
5 ounces dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brewed espresso/coffee
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Place the chocolate, butter, and espresso in a microwavable bowl, and microwave in increments of 15-25 seconds, stirring each time until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream and sugar with an electric mixer until firm, being careful to not to overbeat. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the cream until it's an even consistency and color. Spoon the mousse into ramekins or martini glasses, and garnish with fresh berries, shaved chocolate, or a mint sprig.
Can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to an hour.
This month, some famous quotes on the topic of parenting:
Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
Charles R. Swindoll
Childhood is a short season.
Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.
Parenthood remains the greatest single preserve of the amateur.
Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence.
Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.