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5 Tips for Halloween Decor Safety

5 Tips for Halloween Decor Safety

As Halloween approaches, people everywhere are beginning to decorate their houses and front yards as haunted mansions and deserted graveyards. While it is easy to go all out (because who doesn’t love spooky Halloween decorations?), it is important to consider potential safety threats that exist when using significant amounts of electricity to power your decorations. Consider these 5 safety tips as you decorate for this Halloween.

Do Not Exceed Electricity Limitations

It is important to be aware of how much electricity your decorations are using in total and compare that to your home’s circuit breaker limitations. If you overload your home’s electricity, you could cause a power outage or worse, a power surge that could permanently damage your home’s appliances.

Use LED Lights Whenever Possible

While other types of bulbs are not always inherently dangerous, LED light bulbs present the lowest risk of fires because they produce very little heat. Not only this, but LED lights draw power more efficiently than other bulbs and are far less likely to overload an outlet because of that. Furthermore, they are more suitable for outdoor use and last significantly longer than their counterparts.

Only Use Outdoor Decorations Outside

While this might seem obvious, you might be surprised to find that a particular decoration is not recommended for outdoor use. The reason behind this is that an electronic component of a decoration could become damaged by water or wildlife. In the worst-case scenario, this could cause an electrical fire. Before you use any electronic decoration outside, always check the warning labels.

“Child-Proof” Interior Decorations

If you have children, expect that they will try to play with any decoration you have on the inside of your home. Toddlers present a great risk of electrocution because of their tendency to chew on things. Do not leave electrical decorations in places that your child could reach them in order to prevent harm to them. This same principle goes for pets such as dogs or cats.

Make Sure You’re Covered

Even with all of these precautions taken, a disaster can happen in a matter of seconds with unknown causes. It is important that you are protected financially in the event of an electrical fire destroying your home or a power surge ruining your appliances. With Homeowners Insurance, the burden of repair costs on your home in the event of a disaster is lifted. Even if you lose your home, with the right homeowners insurance plan, you rest knowing that you’ll be taken care of. 

So as you plan for the upcoming holiday, consider these five tips to keep you and your loved ones safe during “Spooky Season.”

Why You Should Avoid Sugary Drinks

Why You Should Avoid Sugary Drinks

Many American families consume sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, sweetened coffee, or fruit juice on a daily basis but do not fully realize the effects these beverages have on their health. In addition to contributing to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and increasing the risk of heart disease, drinking sugary drinks also has detrimental consequences for your dental health. 

What Makes Sugary Drinks So Harmful? 

Beverages like soda—considered the most harmful of sugary drinks—include acids such as phosphoric acid, carbonic acid, and citric acid among their top ingredients. Your mouth naturally contains harmful bacteria that interact with the sugars you consume and produce acid as a result. This acid is harmful to your teeth on its own, but once you add to that the acids found in sugary drinks, the result is an even greater risk of dental damage like enamel erosion and cavities. 

You might think diet or sugar-free drinks are a better choice since they contain little to no sugar. However acid is the key factor here, and diet drinks are still high in acids that can have damaging effects on your teeth.

It’s not just soft drinks that are harmful to teeth. Beverages with high sugar content such as fruit juice or sports drinks still interact with the mouth’s bacteria to produce damaging acids. This means that even if they don’t drink soda, your children can still be at risk for dental damage caused by acid. 

What Can Happen to Your Teeth?

Many people are aware of the negative health effects of regularly drinking sugary beverages, but even casual consumption of these drinks can cause lasting damage to your teeth. Two of the most common dental issues that arise from this habit are enamel erosion and cavities. 

Enamel Erosion

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, but it can still be damaged. Remember those acids we just talked about? Here’s where they come into play. Both the acid created by your mouth’s bacteria and the acid found in sugar-filled drinks erode the enamel on your teeth. Enamel is the protective layer on the outside of your teeth, so the loss of it leads them to become weaker, thinner, and more susceptible to tooth decay. Some symptoms of enamel erosion include sensitivity to hot or cold foods and discoloration on the teeth. Once it is damaged, tooth enamel cannot be restored.

Cavities

As the enamel erodes it can expose the inner layer of the teeth, called dentin. While this exposure is painful on its own, it also leads to the creation of cavities. Cavities are often difficult to detect in their early stages but once they progress, signs include pain or sensitivity, dark stains, and even holes in the teeth. 

Dental Insurance Offers Protection

If you are concerned that your consumption of sugary drinks has caused conditions like enamel erosion or tooth decay, you need to visit your dentist immediately before the problem progresses – and put down the soda! With great dental insurance, you don’t have to worry about the effect that going to the dentist will have on your bank account. Many people’s employers offer dental coverage, but if yours does not, a private plan is an excellent option. Reach out to your agent today to learn more.

When Is the Best Time to Buy a Car?

When Is the Best Time to Buy a Car?

Trying to pinpoint the best time to buy a car can be a little tricky because the timing all completely depends. Depends on what? The market for cars isn’t a written guideline and trying to determine the perfect time to buy will depend on who you ask and when. When beginning your search, it’s a good idea to consider your current own financial situation, budget, and your needs or wants before you choose to buy a new vehicle. Below we’ve pulled together a small list of timeframes when it would be beneficial to look at purchasing your next vehicle.

Day of the Week

Did you know that Mondays are considered the best day to buy a car? Many of the other potential care shoppers will be focused on the responsibilities of their jobs. What does this mean for you? This allows you to have a full look over all of the available cars without the potential for the one you want to be sold while you are still shopping. This also means that the representative at the dealership will give their sole attention to you while you browse.

The End of the Month

Typically, dealerships will set goals to sell a certain amount of cars on their lot per month. If a dealership has yet to hit their sales quota for the month, this may lead the dealership to push their teams for a sale. This gives you a little more room to negotiate on a vehicle by shopping at the end of the month.

The End of the Year

According to the Kelley Blue Book (KBB), often dealerships offer their best deals for car sales at the end of the calendar year. This is why we tend to see so many advertisements shown at the end of the year. Car dealerships prefer to have a smaller inventory of older model cars as they go into the new year. This is a typical practice since the dealerships need to meet their yearly goals.

Shop During a Holiday Weekend

Holidays sales are done quite often by car dealerships. This tends to translate into bigger savings when you buy a car over a holiday weekend. Car dealerships tend to offer higher rebates or limited time financing during these types of sales. The most popular holiday sales are usually Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Black Friday, New Year’s Eve, and Labor Day.

If you are looking to buy a new car soon, it may be time to look at your current auto coverages and see if you could update or add to your policies. Schedule an appointment with your local agent and see what auto options are available.

Your Autumn Home Maintenance Checklist

Your Autumn Home Maintenance Checklist

Fall is getting closer as the temperature has begun to feel a little cooler. While the leaves are beginning to change colors, people are beginning to enjoy carving pumpkins and drinking warm apple cider. Before fully diving into fall activities, make sure that you have prepared your home for the incoming cold winter months.

Sealing Your Windows and Doors

Making sure that your windows and doors have been properly sealed should be one of the top priorities on your list. This is because if you have leaky windows or doors, it will allow the chilly breeze inside while you are trying to stay warm. Typically this is a DIY project that requires rolling self-adhesive weatherstripping down the side of a window or door. It may be helpful to install a door sweep to help prevent drafts between the bottom of the door and the threshold.

Check Your Roof

Checking your roof periodically should already be a part of your yearly maintenance checkup on your home but even more so during the fall. A professional inspection may uncover signs of potential problems, such as damaged or missing shingles, loose seams, or shingle pieces that are accumulating in downspouts. This gives you a chance to have any found issues repaired before winter sets in.

Clean Gutters

Leaves, twigs, and other debris can also weigh gutters down. This can pull the gutters away from the house and potentially damage siding and trim. Clogged gutters can also lead to ice damage during the winter months and invite insects. Maintaining your gutters and downspouts removes clogs from flowing away from your house, which may help prevent potential water damage.

Inspect and Clean the Fireplace Chimney

Before you light up the fireplace to get warm for the night, have a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney. Even if you have a gas fireplace, the fireplace and chimney should still be inspected for any blockages that could cause a fire. In addition, having a professional check the gas lines and vents for leaks should be done. If any are found, you will have plenty of time to get them repaired.

While preparing for the cold months to settle in, think about your current insurance coverages for your home. Fall is the perfect time to review your current home insurance policies and potential options with your agent.

4 Types of Insurance Every Person Should Have

4 Types of Insurance Every Person Should Have

They say that there is insurance for everything, no matter what the insurance is actually covering. Purchasing the right insurance and the amount of it you need will always be determined by factors in your unique situation. These factors are usually children, age, lifestyle, and employment benefits. With the vast variety of insurance coverage out there, many experts recommend purchasing at least 4 types. These types are life insurance, health insurance, long-term disability, and auto insurance. 

Life Insurance

There are two traditional types of life insurance: whole life and term life. Whole life insurance is guaranteed coverage until death if the monthly premiums are paid on time. Term life insurance is a policy that will cover you for a set amount of time. This is a simple explanation of the most basic forms of life insurance. Of course, there are more in-depth differences between the two, but deciding which is best for you will depend on your factors. The universal benefit of life insurance is the ability to cover funeral expenses and provide for those you leave behind.

Health Insurance

Did you know that over 900 Americans who filed for personal bankruptcy between 2013 and 2016 did so because of medical problems – bills, income loss due to illness, or both? These numbers may have you leaning towards obtaining health insurance or to review your current coverages. Currently, rising co-payments, increased deductibles, and dropped coverages have made health insurance a luxury that fewer people can afford. Considering that the national average cost for one day in the hospital was $2,517 in 2018, a minimal policy is better than none. 

Long-Term Disability Coverage

Long-term disability insurance is the one type of insurance most of us think we will never need. Did you know that one in four workers entering the workforce will become disabled and will be unable to work before they reach the age of retirement? Usually, employers offer both short and long term disability insurance as part of their benefits package. This is the best option when it comes to securing affordable disability coverage. Keep in mind that many plans do require a three-month waiting period before coverage kicks in, provide a maximum of three years’ worth of coverage, and have some significant policy exclusions. 

Auto Insurance

Not every state requires drivers to have auto insurance, but most do place regulations regarding financial responsibility in the event of an auto accident. States that do not require insurance will conduct periodic random checks of drivers for proof of insurance. If you don’t have coverage, the fines will vary by the state and can range from the suspension of a driver’s license, added points to your driving record, or fees ranging from $500 to $1,000.

3 Protections Provided By Crop Insurance

3 Protections Provided By Crop Insurance

Did you know that there are roughly 2.2 million farms throughout the United States? A lot of these farms don’t have the protection that they need. Farms that focus more on crops rather than livestock need specialized protection against the elements and more to continue to provide revenue for their farm. It’s estimated that 97% of these farms are family businesses, so it’s not just about the business but also about protecting the investments and the livelihoods of these American families. 

How can your farm be protected? Crop insurance is designed to protect farmers from loss, so they can continue to run their businesses effectively. This is a type of product liability insurance for fresh produce and farm goods. It will usually provide up to $1 million per occurrence with no deductible. This helps farmers get reimbursed for any losses they incur. Below are three protections that are provided by crop insurance. 

Frost

Depending on the location, frost can have devastating effects on a farm. If cold weather decides to come in early, farmers need to be protected from the damage that can occur from not being prepared. Crops differ in their susceptibility to frost, and there are steps you can take to extend the season. Typically, frost is followed by some warm and sunny weather before things really get cold for good. 

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are situations that constantly challenge agricultural production. Tornados, hurricanes, floods, fires, and earthquakes can strike without warning and farmers need to be prepared for the worst. Since agriculture strongly relies on the weather, climate, and water availability to thrive, it is easily impacted by natural events and disasters. Common agricultural impacts from these disasters include:

  • Contamination of bodies of water
  • Loss of harvest or livestock
  • Increased susceptibility to disease
  • Destruction of irrigation systems and other agricultural infrastructure

Theft

We don’t like to think about the possibility of crops being destroyed or stolen, but it is an unfortunate situation that does occur. When crops are stolen or destroyed, it can lead to a cut in revenue for the farm. Farmers who get insurance for crops don’t have to worry about the potential loss of revenue if they have the correct coverage.

5 Simple Exercises to Do at Home

5 Simple Exercises to Do at Home

Not everyone is able to work out in a gym. This could be because of lack of time or some may find it difficult to commit to a gym. Working out at your place of residence may be an easier way to get in your daily exercise. It’s important to work out and keep your body moving and functional as you get older. There are five simple exercises that are focused on functional fitness. Functional exercises are exercises that allow for someone to complete daily activities with ease. It is recommended that everyone does them – beginners, seniors, and even the best athletes – to perform to the best of their abilities. These five exercises are considered compound exercises that work all the major muscle groups in the body and as an additional plus side, the exercises can be completed anywhere. 

Squats

Many fitness experts actually say that doing squats is the one exercise everyone should do if you don’t have a lot of time. Daily squats can help you mentally and can even help you get better yearly checkups with your primary physician. The biggest benefit of squats is building leg muscles – quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. This exercise also creates an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building, improving muscle mass.

Lunges

The biggest benefit of lunges is that the exercise effectively works the glutes and quadriceps while engaging with the hamstrings. Your metabolism can be sped up by strengthening these large muscle groups. With a fast metabolism, it can assist with weight loss. Lunges can help you shape, tone, and firm up your legs and glutes. Additionally, this exercise improves core strength and hip flexibility. 

Push-Ups

The most beneficial exercise for building upper body strength is push-ups. They work the triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders. If done with a proper form, they can also strengthen the lower back and core by engaging the abdominal muscles. Push-ups are a fast and effective exercise for building strength and they can be done anywhere and without any equipment.

Pull-Ups

Pull-ups focus on strengthening the back, arm, shoulder muscles, and grip. Strength and resistance training can increase your overall fitness level. When doing a pull-up, you’re lifting your entire body mass with the move. Studies show that strength training is important for promoting bone development and enhancing cardiovascular health.

Planks

One of the most effective core exercises to do. Not only will they help you strengthen your core but also will help improve your posture. A plank consists of being in an extended push-up pose and holding your core muscles. The plank is a bodyweight exercise. Bodyweight exercises are workouts that you can do with nothing but your own body and that’s a reason why it is a favorite of many people. 

Whatever your reason for needing to exercise in your own home, there are many simple exercises you can do. Keeping up your health is incredibly important and you don’t have to leave your home to maintain it.

How Does My Car Affect My Car Insurance?

How Does My Car Affect My Car Insurance?

While shopping around for car insurance, it’s important to know all the different factors that go into the price of your premium. Car insurance companies collect information on your vehicle, as well as additional factors, to help determine how much you need to pay for insurance. To speak specifically on the automotive factors, the insurance company may use your vehicle identification number (VIN) to access information and they may contact you directly for additional information needed. Below is a list of all factors that can have an impact on your car insurance:

  • The vehicle production year
  • The make and model of the vehicle
  • Safety features of the vehicle
  • Car alarm (if applicable)
  • Total number of vehicles you currently insure

Additional Factors

As you know, car insurance is not just reflective of the car being insured. Two additional factors will have an effect on your car insurance coverage and price: the driver of the vehicle and the insurance company you go through. Below is a list of driver factors and insurance company factors that can potentially change your policy.

Driver Factors:

  • The age of the driver
  • The driver’s driving record
  • Total number of drivers on the insurance policy
  • The current credit score of the driver
  • Homeownership
  • Where the driver lives
  • Grades (applicable to teen drivers)

Insurance Company Factors:

  • Payment plan 
  • Length of time insured
  • Your state’s law

Keeping Your Limits and Deductibles In Mind

Limits on policies are the maximum amount that policy will pay towards a covered loss. Typically, most coverages within a policy have their own limit, but these can sometimes be adjusted to be tailored to your current needs. It’s common that the more coverages that you purchase, the higher your premium will be. The amount you agree to pay before insurance kicks in to help pay for a covered loss is known as your deductible. Settling on a higher deductible means that you will end up paying less for your policy.

Starting a Business – What Insurance Do You Need?

Starting a Business – What Insurance Do You Need?

Taking the leap into a new business venture is ambitious and thrilling. It’s basic industry knowledge that new businesses fall into sticky situations sometimes. As you start your business, it’ll be important to cover yourself and your team for the potential risks that come with it. Keep in mind that if you don’t have insurance coverage, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for any damages or legal claims made against you. Checking your state’s business insurance requirements will help you narrow down the policies you need for your new start-up. 

Basic Insurance Policies Your Start-Up May Need:

  • Business Owner’s Policy
  • General Liability
  • Commercial Property Insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Commercial Auto
  • Commercial Flood
  • Commercial Umbrella
  • Professional Liability
  • Business Interruption

What Is the Total Cost of All The Policies? 

The price you end up paying for coverage will depend upon the type of business you will be running. The insurance rates for businesses vary by industry. Higher risk businesses will end up needing to pay more for their premiums. 

Once you begin to buy all of the insurance policies that you need, it’s important to be mindful of the deductibles that come with them. Your deductible is the amount that you will pay out of pocket for a claim before your insurance company will cover the rest of the expense up to the policy limits. Usually, a higher deductible can save you money on your premium, but you’ll pay more out-of-pocket if you need to make a claim.

You Only Need A Few Policies, Right?

The answer to this is, maybe. As mentioned before, the insurance needs of a new business can vary greatly based on industry. Below are listed some ways that could help you lower the cost for your start-up’s insurance:

  • Comparing Coverage Options
  • Bundling Policies
  • Driving Safely
  • Look Into Discounts

Don’t Just Enjoy Your Classic Car – Protect It

Don’t Just Enjoy Your Classic Car – Protect It

Classic, collectible or antique cars are not ordinary, everyday cars. This means that general auto insurance cannot fully protect this type of vehicle against damage or loss. There is not a book definition of a classic car. If a car’s value exceeds its original selling price, then it might be considered collectible and a candidate for specialized classic car insurance. In general, vehicles that might warrant classic car auto insurance include:

  • Antique and classic cars, usually at least 25 to 30 years old
  • Hotrods and modified vehicles
  • Exotic and luxury autos
  • Muscle cars
  • Classic trucks

How To Qualify for Coverage

The age of a car is usually not enough to qualify for specialized classic car insurance. Requirements will differ from company to company. Below is a list of requirements that most cars must meet in order to qualify for classic car insurance:

  • Limited use – The classic car in question cannot be used for everyday commuting or errands. It is possible that the policy will include mileage limitations and proof that the classic car is being properly garaged. In this case, your insurance may require you to own a personal vehicle.
  • Secure storage – When your classic car is not in use, it must be stored in a locked and enclosed private structure. This could be a residential garage or storage unit. 
  • A clean driving record – If you have serious offenses on your driving record, such as reckless driving, repeat speeding violations, or driving while intoxicated, you may not be qualified for class car insurance. 

Classic Car General Policies

Classic car policies include provisions that are found in standard auto insurance policies. Typically, these provisions are property damage and bodily injury liability coverage. There are some differences as listed below:

  • The car’s value – There is not a set “book value” for specific makes and models because every car’s condition is unique. Your initial step for your classic car coverage is to work with your insurance provider to agree on the value of the vehicle. This agreed value will be specified in your policy and your car will be covered up to that value without depreciation. 
  • Specialized repair or restoration – With classic car coverage, you should be given the flexibility to bring your classic car to a specialist—even if the rates are twice or three times the cost of a typical car repair at a traditional auto body shop.
  • Special towing and spare parts – Coverage for towing and spare parts coverage need to be aligned with the cost of the service provided. Towing with the special demands of transporting a classic car. Spare parts need to be aligned with the cost of replacing valuable and perhaps hard-to-find vehicle components, such as wheels, transmissions, and engine parts.

Keep your prized automobile well protected. Speak to your agent today about adding specialized classic car insurance.