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Healthy-ish Fourth Of July Desserts

July 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on Healthy-ish Fourth Of July Desserts | Posted in Misc

The Fourth of July is all about fireworks, barbecues, and independence. But as with any holiday, it’s also about the dessert. Celebrate liberty with these guilt-FREE treats, from fruity crisps to keto-friendly cheesecake and delicious no-churn ice creams. Looking for more patriotic sweets? Try these red, white, and blue desserts and 4th of July cupcakes that will totally win your party.

Measles Outbreak Expands

May 8th, 2019 | Comments Off on Measles Outbreak Expands | Posted in Misc

What You Need to Know

More than 465 people from 19 states—the majority of whom are children—have been infected by the measles in the United States this year. This outbreak is now the second-highest total number of cases since the disease was declared eliminated in the United States almost 20 years ago, and it’s only April.

What is measles?

Measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus called rubeola. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that if one person contracts the disease, up to 90% of those close to them will become infected too if they aren’t immune.

People are most susceptible to contracting this illness in early childhood. Measles usually causes fatigue, runny nose, cough, slight fever, and head and back pains. In later stages, it can cause a high fever, Koplik’s spots (small white dots) inside the mouth and a rash that starts around the hairline and spreads downward.

Measles has a 25% hospitalization rate, is not treatable and has no cure. The virus can lead to serious complications, such as encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. In some extremely severe cases, measles and its complications can be fatal.

How can the measles be prevented?

Measles can be prevented with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. This vaccine is typically given in two different doses, the first being administered between 12 to 15 months of age and the second being administered between 4 to 6 years of age. The CDC reports that the two doses together are 97% effective at preventing the disease, while just getting one dose is 93% effective at preventing the disease.

Without being vaccinated, you’re at risk of contracting measles, especially because it is a highly contagious illness. If you live in an area that’s experiencing a measles outbreak, call your doctor for recommendations on what to do. Your doctor may recommend staying in your house until the outbreak subsides.

Insurance for Your Wine Collection

June 1st, 2017 | Comments Off on Insurance for Your Wine Collection | Posted in Misc

A true wine enthusiast understands the rewards of owning an expansive collection. The pride that goes into nurturing a bottle, anticipating its peak age and then enjoying its flavor can be gratifying.

e array of wines, it is wise to insure your collection in a stand-alone valuable articles policy. You can either insure the collection under a blanket amount, such as $50,000—or, if your collection contains individual high-value bottles, you may wish to insure each bottle separately. Generally, a stand-alone wine policy costs 50 to 80 cents for every hundred dollars of wine. Therefore, if you had a wine collection worth $100,000, your premium would be roughly $550.

Policy Inclusions

Wine insurance policies may include the following:

  • Protection against damages due to fire, theft or accidental breakage
  • Protection against mechanical breakdowns in the climate control unit that damages wine
  • Protection against label damage in a fire, flood or other natural disaster. For many rare, vintage wines, the label increases the value of the wine.
  • Access to vendors who ship, buy and sell wine. Vendors who store wine in another location; vendors who offer security systems for your collection and vendors offering temperature-control systems
  • Guidance for how to best store your collection, especially when building or renovating your wine cellar

Storage Recommendations

If you house a collection in your home, consider the following recommendations to reduce damage to your wine:

  • Do not store chemicals, paint or odor-producing materials near your collection. These items can permeate through the cork and spoil the wine.
  • Do not store wine near heaters or sunlight, or in areas that are susceptible to flooding, such as beneath a bathroom or laundry room. Also avoid placing wine in areas of the home that are beneath or next to a home theater which causes excess vibrations.
  • Store wine at 55º F. The humidity in a wine storage should also be 65 to 75 percent. Anything above or below that amount can damage the label or cork.
  • Install an alarm that warns against theft, temperature changes and moisture. When selecting an alarm, purchase one that sends a message directly to your mobile device.

5 Tips: Improve Your Mental Health

May 8th, 2017 | Comments Off on 5 Tips: Improve Your Mental Health | Posted in Misc

Staying healthy is about more than paying attention to your physical body—your mental health directly influences how you think, feel, react and maintain relationships. If you don’t take steps to promote your mental health, you may find that anxiety, depression and irritability can take control of your life.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 1 in 5 adults experience some form of mental illness in a given year, but less than half of them seek professional treatment. And, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a mental illness, taking steps to improve your mental well-being can improve your physical health and help you maintain positive relationships.

Here are five tips you can use to help improve your mental health:

  1. Talk with those who care about you. Simply talking to friends, family members or co-workers can help you overcome a personal problem and stay connected.
  2. Take a break from digital distractions. Although smartphones and other modern technology make it easy to stay connected with others, focusing too much on digital media can make it easy to ignore close relationships and the world around you.
  3. Take care of your body. Your brain is still part of your physical body, so it’s important to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet and get enough restful sleep.
  4. Set realistic goals and focus on taking the first step. Many projects or errands can seem overwhelming when taken as a whole. Try planning out steps for large tasks and concentrate on what you need to do first.
  5. Get help when you need it. Although there can be negative social stigmas about seeking help for mental or emotional problems, mental health professionals are trained to help manage stress and mental illnesses with therapy or medication.

Read More : Personal Lines inSights Newsletter – May 2017

Why Are Health Care Costs Rising?

April 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on Why Are Health Care Costs Rising? | Posted in Misc

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

April 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on Questions to Ask Your Doctor | Posted in Misc

Note: The questions listed below are designed to help you maximize your health care dollars. These questions should not be used as a substitute for your doctor’s professional, medical advice.

Patients often accept their doctors’ advice without truly understanding what alternative treatments are available, and what—if any—differences there are in cost and effectiveness among those alternatives. Asking questions can help you decide what treatment plan is best for both your health and your wallet.

Questions to Ask: General

  1. Why is this treatment necessary?
  2. How much will my treatment cost?
  3. Can I be treated another way that is equally effective but less costly?
  4. What is the current procedural terminology (CPT) code of this treatment so I can price shop this procedure?
  5. What can I do to improve my condition?

Questions to Ask: Prescriptions

  1. Why are you suggesting this specific dosage?
  2. Is my prescription in my insurance’s approved list? Or, is this a specialty drug?
  3. Can you recommend a lower-cost generic or over-the-counter drug as an alternative?

If a Tree Falls, Who Pays?

March 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on If a Tree Falls, Who Pays? | Posted in Misc

Every year, storms are responsible for felling countless trees and limbs. Unfortunately, some of those fallen trees damage homes and other property.

Cleaning up the damage from a storm can be a difficult task, both physically and emotionally, and things can become especially tense when you discover that it’s your neighbor’s tree that damaged your house.

To make matters worse, many homeowners are surprised to discover that if a neighbor’s tree falls on their house, it’s usually their own homeowners policy—not their neighbor’s—that will cover the cost of the damages. What follows are general guidelines for who pays what in various situations, but you should also check your homeowners policy for coverages and exclusions.

Your Property, Your Policy

Generally speaking, if your property is damaged, you are responsible for the damages. It doesn’t matter if the tree or limb came from your property, your neighbor’s property or even municipal property.

Keep in mind that a windstorm isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s an act of nature. If a tree does damage your property during a windstorm, your policy will cover the damages. After all, that’s why you purchased a homeowners policy—to protect yourself against unforeseen losses like a tree damaging your house.

Their Property, Their Policy

It might seem unfair that if it’s your neighbor’s tree that damages your home, you should have to pay. Fortunately for you, that standard applies both ways. If a storm rolls through and your tree falls and damages your neighbor’s house, his or her insurance is going to cover the damages.

Negligence and Liability

So far, these scenarios have been fairly straightforward, but what happens when it wasn’t a storm that fell the tree?

Instead, your neighbor’s tree was hollowed out from years of disease, and he’d neglected to do anything about it. In fact, it was so diseased that you expressed your concern to your neighbor that it might topple over and damage your property. Unfortunately, one day, that’s exactly what happens. What then?

Your insurance carrier is still going to be the one paying your claim. However, if you can prove your neighbor knew that the tree was diseased and that he or she neglected to fix it, your insurance carrier would probably attempt to collect from your neighbor’s insurance. If All your carrier is successful, you could be reimbursed for your deductible.

Remember, though, this rule also applies the other way. If you have diseased or damaged trees on your property and they damage your neighbor’s house, he or she can try to prove your negligence. Your property is your responsibility, so it’s best to inspect your trees every year for signs of disease or damage. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, consider having a professional arborist examine your trees.

Other Structures

If the tree doesn’t damage your house but instead damages your fence, are you still covered? Generally, you are.

Most homeowners policies distinguish between two different kinds of structures on your property. The “dwelling” refers to your house and any attached structures (like an attached garage), as well as any fixtures attached to the house. “Other structures,” including detached garages, sheds, fences or gazebos, are also insured, but typically only for 10 percent of the coverage on your dwelling.


If, in the aftermath of a storm, you discover that a tree has fallen on your car, your homeowners policy doesn’t apply. Instead, you’ll be looking at your auto policy.

If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, your auto insurance carrier will pay for the damages, after you pay your deductible. The same rule would apply to a guest’s car. Hopefully, he or she took out comprehensive coverage, too.

Removal and Cleanup

What if the tree fell but didn’t hit anything? Would you be covered for removal costs?

If the fallen tree blocks a path to your front door or driveway, then many homeowners policies would pay for removal. Generally, the maximum coverage is around $500.

If the tree simply falls in the middle of your yard, your policy likely wouldn’t cover it. Unless the fallen tree damaged insured property, there is no loss to file a claim for.


Replacing the trees themselves can be more complicated. Trees that have fallen due to wind damage may or may not be covered, so it’s best to check with your broker.

Most policies offer limited coverage for trees that have fallen due to fire, lightning, explosion, theft, vandalism, malicious mischief or aircraft. Amounts and exclusions will vary, so it’s important to read your policy and check with your broker if you have any questions.

Making Sure You’re Covered

Hopefully, your trees grow and endure. In the event that they fall, it’s important to know that you’re covered. Contact Hodge, Hart & Schleifer today to make sure that you have sufficient coverage for whatever might blow your way.

Staging Your Home for Sale

March 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on Staging Your Home for Sale | Posted in Misc

Las Vegas real estate broker Kamran Zand, founder of Luxury Estates International, knows a little something about staging a home for quick sale. He recently set a record for the highest price paid per square foot for a high-rise condo on the Las Vegas Strip: $1,633 per square foot for a 3,980-square-foot penthouse, once owned by famed developer Kirk Kerkorian, in the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas. The condo was under contract with a local buyer before it was even listed.

Zand is steadily selling luxury in a postcrash economy where prices are on the rise, and he actively coaches his sellers on how to get their properties sold as quickly as possible. Staging is a key part of that equation: Zand even launched a virtual house-staging service to help clients succeed. In a recent Real Estate Staging Association study of 1,081 homes, unstaged homes spent an average of 184 days on the market; after staging, they sold on average in 41 days. Homes that were staged prior to going on the market sold on average in only 23 days.

We asked Zand for some of his top tips for getting your home ready to sell—fast.

If you want to sell your house but haven’t moved out, what are the most important things you can do to prepare?
Having your home impeccably clean is crucial! You’ll want to declutter and rearrange the furniture to open the spaces of your home. You want potential buyers to focus on your home, not on the items in your home.

Should you “neutralize” your home by, for example, painting over saturated wall colors? And can décor choices affect sale price?
Absolutely, on both counts. Neutralizing a home will open possibilities to more buyers, since this allows them to visualize the property’s potential. Saturated paint colors and very personal décor may inhibit a buyer, since they might not have the ability to see through your personal choices and envision themselves in the space. And make sure that you address the home’s curb appeal by having the landscape refreshed and any cosmetic repairs made to the home’s exterior.

Should sellers expect their broker to advise them on what to clear out and what to keep?
As an expert in my field, I make sure the properties I list are up to showing standards. It’s to everyone’s benefit to make sure properties don’t sit on the market for long periods of time. Agents should know what buyers are looking for.

Should you stage your empty home? If so, should you rely on a staging company or simply leave some furniture behind to illustrate the purpose of each room?
Lightly staging a home is crucial, since it gives the potential buyer some visual clues to what the home will look like. A staging company can fully stage a home or work around furniture you already have to help show the property in its best light. The best idea when working with a staging company is to let them do their job! Sometimes sellers are so personally invested in their home, they have a difficult time letting go. Professional stagers know how to do just enough—but not too much—to make your home look inviting, neutral and ready for your buyers.

Smell Gas? How To Protect …

February 7th, 2017 | Comments Off on Smell Gas? How To Protect … | Posted in Misc

Smell Gas? How To Protect Your Family & Home From Gas Leaks

We hear in the news all too often about a gas explosion in a home or business causing devastating loss to property and even loss of life. An estimated 177 million Americans rely on natural gas in their homes,1and gas leaks are something every household should take seriously.

If you haven’t already done so, get acquainted with your main gas valve location and identify where the shutoff lever is located in case of an emergency. In addition, familiarize yourself with the signs of a gas leak and proper response.

How to detect a gas leak?

Smell: A natural gas leak is described as smelling like a rotten egg or sulfur. This smell is actually added to the natural gas by utility companies to warn customers of a potential leak.

gas burnerHear: You may hear a hiss or a blowing sound, which may indicate a gas leak from an appliance.

See: You may suddenly notice a yellowing or brown patch on landscaping outside your home, which may indicate a leak underground.

Physical: You may suddenly feel light-headed, dizzy and/or nauseous, and going outside in fresh air causes the symptoms to subside.

What to do next?

If the odor is strong and overwhelming, evacuate the house immediately at a safe distance and call 911. When a gas leak is present, it can interact with electrical and fire sources. This could cause an explosion, so it’s very important to immediately leave the area if you smell gas and detect something obviously wrong.

If the odor is light and nothing is obviously wrong, the following are some quick things you can do to protect yourself before evacuating:

  • With an odor of gas present, it is critical to not use light switches, cell phone, lighters, matches, candles, stoves, or anything with an open flame. A flashlight is a safer lighting option to use.
  • Check your gas stove or cooktop to make sure that it was not accidentally left on.
  • Open as many doors and windows as possible to allow air to flow through.
  • Know in advance the location of your main gas shutoff valve, which stops the flow of gas to the entire house. Shutoff valves vary greatly in design and location on a property depending on the age of your house, the local codes and which part of the country you live in.  Turn the gas supply off at the main valve (using a wrench is often necessary).  Do not try to turn the gas back on to your home; call the gas company to do that.

Consider a high-tech warning system

To further protect your family and home, consider installing an explosive gas leak detector in your home. Available at do-it-yourself hardware stores, these systems will set off an alarm if combustible gas is detected. You may also wish to contact your local alarm professional to have an explosive gas leak detector tied to the monitored alarm system in your home.