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10 Insurance Myths

June 3rd, 2014 | Comments Off on 10 Insurance Myths | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

The Top 10 Insurance Myths


Insurance is something that nearly everyone purchases. Whether you own a car or carry health insurance through your company, it’s likely you’ve interacted with an underwriting agency at one time or another. Insurance is sometimes misunderstood, and it can be a complicated topic.

It is important to be educated about the different types of insurance out there, but sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish the truth from myths. Here are a few common myths we hear all the time:

#1 – “I don’t have that much stuff, so I don’t need renter’s insurance.”

A lot of people think that they don’t have enough stuff to make buying renters insurance worth it. Go around your apartment or rental home and take stock of all your items, including furniture, appliances, electronics, clothing, towels, and more. Everything should be counted, even the food in your kitchen. After you do this, you’ll probably be surprised at just how much you could lose in the event of a natural disaster, fire, or theft. Even if you don’t own very expensive items, you can get back on your feet faster when you have renters insurance to compensate for your losses.

#2 – “Only rich people need umbrella insurance.”

Many people believe that umbrella insurance is only for the wealthy, as it gives significant coverage (usually over $1 million) for liability lawsuits. Umbrella insurance adds additional liability coverage to existing policies, such as auto or home insurance. The fact is, anyone can face a liability lawsuit, but not everyone has enough insurance to pay for one. If you’re legally responsible for someone’s losses, injuries or death, there’s a chance you could be sued for more money than a standard insurance policy will cover. Umbrella insurance is a cushion everyone can use to get peace of mind when the worst happens.

#3 – “I’m a homemaker, so life insurance won’t benefit my family.”

Life insurance is a dynamic product that can help support the entire family, not just those who earn money. A life insurance policy can help cover the costs from a lost salary, childcare, food, transportation, housekeeping, mortgage payments and more. When you buy life insurance, you can be sure that your family continues on with a similar standard of living.

#4 – “Obamacare means I can’t keep seeing my current doctor.”

Many people think that when the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) goes into effect, they will no longer be able to see their current doctor or other medical provider. This is simply not true in most cases. If you are receiving health insurance through an employer already, you won’t really see any changes to your insurance coverage. If you are purchasing a new plan, you may need to find a plan that will have your current doctor in-network. With all the plans available, it is very likely that your current provider is covered under one of them. You can even ask your doctor or medical provider what insurances they accept to help you choose. This is also a place where an independent insurance agent can be helpful, as they work with several insurance companies and can shop around to help you find the coverage you want.

#5 – “I don’t need flood insurance if I don’t live near the water.”

Flood insurance is not required in some areas, so you may believe that don’t need this protection if you don’t live near a body of water. Even if you don’t live in a flood plan, it’s a good idea to carry flood insurance. Flooding can happen anywhere, whether you live on the ocean or in the desert. Things like hurricanes, strong rains, or problems with water systems can cause flooding, no matter if you live near a large body of water or not.

#6 – “A red car will cost more to insure.”

No one knows exactly how this myth started, although it may be due to the bright color of red cars standing out in traffic. It could also be that scientists have proved that color has a direct effect on mood. The truth of the matter is that owning and insuring a red car will not cost you any more then insuring a blue or green car. What is going to affect your auto insurance premium is your driving history, the age of your vehicle, and the make and model of your car.

#7 – “Disability insurance isn’t necessary, because Social Security will pay me.”

While Social Security can help people who are disabled, it may not be able to meet all of your needs. There are also strict qualifications to meet before you can receive disability benefits through Social Security. This is why disability is so important. Disability insurance can be used for long-term or short-term disability, unlike Social Security, and it will kick in immediately after you become disabled to replace lost income.

#8 – “I’m young and healthy, I don’t need health insurance.”

People who are young and without serious health problems may not prioritize health insurance coverage. While you may not need many aspects of health insurance coverage, like prescription coverage or maternity care, you should still consider carrying a basic health insurance plan. This will protect you from outrageous costs if you happen to have an accident or get diagnosed with a serious illness.

#9 – “Long term care insurance is only for the elderly.”

Most people think that long term care insurance only covers nursing home expenses for the elderly. However, it can also very beneficial for younger people. It can help to cover costs from an accident, if you need rehabilitation. It can also help cover the cost of an illness that puts you out of work for a long time. Purchasing long term care insurance can help you save money, even if you have a good health insurance plan.

#10 – “If I have homeowners insurance, all my belongings are covered automatically.”

Some homeowners assume that their homeowners insurance covers the entire house and everything in it. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. You may need to go through a process called “scheduling” to get all your items covered – which typically requires an inventory and description of all the items you own. Higher-value items, like electronics and appliances, will need to have the serial number included. To ensure you get reimbursed for your losses, keep an ongoing list of all your belongings. Take pictures of your things and remember to include details like serial numbers or receipts when you go through the scheduling process with your insurance company.

These are just a few of the most common myths related to different types of insurance. To be fully protected from life’s unexpected surprises, use insurance to your advantage and stay educated about the truths and myths surrounding it.

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13 Safest Cars

June 3rd, 2014 | Comments Off on 13 Safest Cars | Posted in Family Health & Safety

13 Safest Cars on the Road Today


Who Decides Which Cars are Safest?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety helps insurance companies and consumers evaluate vehicles based on their safety features. The organization is on a mission to reduce accidents, fatalities, and injuries by rewarding auto manufacturers with high marks for outstanding innovations in driver and passenger safety.

Unlike the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the IIHS tests for offset crashes, rather than broad frontal crashes. This better displays the weaknesses in a car’s impact capabilities. The five types of crashes tested by the IIHS include:

  • Moderate overlap frontal test
  • Small overlap frontal test
  • Side impact test
  • Rear crash protection, or head restraint test
  • Roof strength evaluation

Based on how well each car protects crash dummies in these tests, the IIHS assigns a score from “Poor” to “Good.” Cars that score exceptionally well, or include extra safety innovations above and beyond industry standards, can receive the highest safety award the IIHS offers: The Top Safety Pick + Award. This is essentially an A+ mark, coveted by auto makers for its selling power.

So Which Cars Scored an A+ This Year?

The list is in for 2013, and these cars scored top IIHS honors for driver and passenger safety:
  • Honda Accord 2-door: The Accord is no stranger to safety awards, which is part of its longstanding appeal. The sporty 2013 2-door version is no different.
  • Honda Accord 4-door: Just like the 2-door Accord, this model keeps all five passengers protected from impact, with side airbags and sensitive restraint systems.
  • Chrysler 200 4-door: The 200 is a scaled-down model of the Chrysler 300, with no reductions in safety.
  • Dodge Avenger: The Avenger has been slowly gaining popularity since its reintroduction in 2008. Its new safety rating could boost sales even further.
  • Ford Fusion: The Fusion offers a lot of features and top shelf safety technology at a low price.
  • Kia Optima: While it has been a best-seller in the past, the new Optima is sportier than ever, with new safety innovations on top of style.
  • Nissan Altima 4-door: The Altima continues to outsell the competition, with a few new extras on the latest model.
  • Suzuki Kizashi: The Kizashi is no longer manufactured by Subaru, as of this year, but it scored highly on 2013 IIHS tests, and would make a great used car option.
  • Subaru Legacy: This year’s model saw changes in suspension, transmission, and safety that made it a standout in crash tests.
  • Subaru Outback: Built on the same chassis as the Legacy, this little wagon is a great choice for small families.
  • Acura TL: The TL is manufactured by the same factories that produce the Accord, and is one of the few cars that offer both luxury and outstanding safety features.
  • Volvo S60: Volvo has worked to make its name synonymous with safety.
  • Volkswagen Passat: This midsized sedan is fun to drive, and offers great protection in a collision, too.

What Does Car Safety Mean for You?

Not only does a high safety rating mean you get to save money on your insurance, it also means you have a higher chance of surviving a collision, and so do your passengers. Cars with a Top Safety Pick + Award stand up to impact better than the competition, and they also have innovative extras to improve handling, reduce distractions, and boost traction. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, check the safety ratings first. It could end up saving your life someday.

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June Festivals and Events

June 3rd, 2014 | Comments Off on June Festivals and Events | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

151866929The Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the official website or call to confirm information. Please note that most of these events are held each year and the dates are updated as available.

Free Summer Concerts
Find concert schedules for free family entertainment throughout the month in various destinations around Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Free Outdoor Movies
Outdoor movies are getting very popular and there are a variety of venues to choose from throughout the summer. See the schedules here.

Arlington National Cemetery’s 150th Anniversary
Through June 15, 2014. The cemetery will host a series of special events and tours in celebration of their 150th anniversary. Learn about the history of our nation and its national cemetery.

Herndon Festival
May 29-June 1, 2014. Downtown Herndon, Virginia. The free summer festival features live entertainment, international foods, carnival rides and games, children’s entertainment, a business exposition, 10k & 5k races, a Fitness expo, fireworks and more.

Vintage Virginia Wine Festival
May 31-June 1, 2014. Bull Run Park, Centreville, Virginia. Enjoy samples by more than 50 wineries including over 250 award-winning Virginia wines, educational seminars on food pairing, fine art exhibits, children’s activities, food and live entertainment.

Green Festival
May 31-June 1, 2014. Washington Convention Center. Washington DC. The event focuses on sustainability education and green products and services including authors, leaders and educators, hands-on DIY workshops, green films, kids’ activities, live music and more.

Washington Folk Festival
May 31- June 1, 2014, 12-7 p.m. Glen Echo Park. Presented by the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, the free festival features hundreds of musicians, storytellers, dancers, and craft vendors representing the rich cultural diversity of the Washington area. Audiences will enjoy American musical traditions such as bluegrass, blues, and swing as well as international traditions from across the globe. Rain or shine.

Northern Virginia Tour de Cure Bicycling Event
June 1, 2014. Reston, VA. Help raise funds and awareness about diabetes by participating in this annual event. All experience levels welcome.

Washington Nationals Baseball
The Major League Baseball’s National League East plays 81 home games each season at Nationals Park. Enjoy a fun-filled day cheering on DC’s baseball team.

Summer Theater in Washington DC
With dozens of performances around the region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2014 season.

Millennial Week
June 2-8, 2014. The first time event kicks off in Washington DC to provide a social and cultural  platform for millennials – those born between 1977 and 2001. The week will focus on issues that are important to this generation, ranging from politics to entrepreneurship.

Taste of Wheaton
June 5-8, 2014. Wheaton, MD. Enjoy a variety of food samples from local restaurants, live music and kids activities.

The Source Theater Festival
June 6-29, 2014. Source Theatre, 1835 14th Street, NW Washington, DC. See new works in theater, dance, music, visual art, film, puppetry, spoken word, poetry and hip-hop. Performances include three full-length plays, 18 10-minute plays and three Artistic Blind Dates.

Celebrate Fairfax! Festival
June 6-8, 2014. Northern Virginia’s largest annual community-wide celebration features live music, children’s activities, a community market place, a laser show and fireworks.

Capital Pride
June 7-8, 2014. A street festival and parade celebrate pride in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities in Washington, DC.

Dupont-Kalorama Museum Walk
June 7-8, 2014. Visit museums near Dupont Circle featuring free admission and special activities for all ages.

Imagination Bethesda
June 7, 2014, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Bethesda, MD.  A children’s street festival featuring costume characters, face painters, dance troupes, theatre performances and a variety of hands-on arts activities.

USAF Cycling Classic
June 7-8, 2014. Cycling event in Crystal City, VA to help members of the United States military who have sustained Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Annapolis Arts and Crafts Festival
June 7-8, 2014. The two-day celebration of the arts in Annapolis, Maryland features the juried works of more than 150 fine artists and craftsmen, wine tastings, food, live entertainment and activities for the entire family.

Celebrate Gaithersburg
June 8, 2014. noon-5 p.m. Bring the whole family to the annual Gaithersburg street festival, with live music, food, arts & crafts, amusements and more.

Taste of Reston
June 13-14, 2014. Reston Town Center. Enjoy a variety of food from the region’s finest eateries, live music, activities and games. Admission and parking are free. Tastings start at $1.

Washington Soap Box Derby
June 14, 2014. Watch racers ages 8-17 compete in an All American Soap Box Derby on Capitol Hill.

Flag Day and the Bicentennial of the Star Spangled Banner
June 14 through September, 2014. Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia will celebrate these related historic events this summer with a variety of patriotic festivals and exhibits. Check out the sing-along, concerts, Tall ships, reenactments, children’s activities and much more.

Father’s Day
June 15, 2014. Looking for a special way to spend Father’s Day this year? Here are some ideas of ways to spend some family time with Dad on Father’s Day in Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Manassas Wine and Jazz Festival
June 15, 2014. Enjoy an afternoon of wine and live jazz in Old Town Manassas, Virginia.

AFI DOCS Film Festival
June 18-22, 2014. Film festival, sponsored by the American Film Institute, showing free films, and special programs at several locations in the Washington DC area.

National Capital Barbecue Battle
June 21-22, 2014. If you love barbecue you’ll love the food samples, cooking demonstrations, interactive displays and children’s activities at this sizzling summer festival on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW between 9th & 14th Sts.

Alexandria Food and Wine Festival
June 21, 2014. The street festival showcases local food and wine and includes live entertainment, craft vendors and children activities.

Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest
June 21-22, 2014. Morven Park, Leesburg, VA. Enjoy a beer festival with food, live entertainment and children’s activities.

Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods
Tuesdays through Saturdays, June-August 2014. Family friendly performances in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. (recommended for children ages 5-12)

A T & T National Golf Tournament
June 23-29, 2014. Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Maryland. Top PGA TOUR professionals compete at one of the highest-ranked courses in the country.

DC Jazz Festival
June 24-29, 2014. Enjoy more than 100 jazz performances at concert venues and clubs throughout Washington, DC.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
June 25- 29 and July 2-6, 2014. Celebrate cultural traditions from around the world. The Festival includes daily and evening music and dance performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling and discussions of cultural issues. This is one of Washington, DC’s most popular summer events.

Montgomery County Heritage Days
June 28-29, 2014, 12-4 p.m. More than 30 historic sites in Montgomery County, Maryland showcase the county’s rich history with free music, dance, food, and children’s activities.

Baltimore/Washington One Caribbean Carnival
June 28-29, 2014. Baltimore, Maryland. Annual Pan Jam, The festival features local Steelbands and the Annual Dimanche Gras plus the judging of costumes.

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Drowning 101: Knowing the Signs

June 3rd, 2014 | Comments Off on Drowning 101: Knowing the Signs | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Drowning 101: Knowing the signs and symptoms could save a life


Whether you’re hitting the beach, lake, river or pool with young ones, friends or family, what you don’t know about drowning is a huge liability.

What you’re learning about drowning right now may save someone you love. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second most common cause of death in children and ranks fifth overall for unintentional injuries in the U.S.

First, just about everything you have seen enacted on TV regarding drowning is wrong. Drowning people don’t thrash or call out, and they don’t warn people of their imminent demise. In fact, drowning is eerily quiet. According to Slate.com, there is an automatic reaction called the Instinctive Drowning Response that people do when distressed in the water.

Here are some signs of what an Instinctive Drowning Response can look like:

— A drowning person’s mouth bobs below the surface, with little time to come up and get

— A drowning person is unable to speak because breathing comes first.

— A drowning person’s arms are pushing down against the water, unable to wave or grab
   for safety.

— A drowning person’s body is upright with no kicking to help them to surface.

— A drowning person’s struggling on the surface happens in 20- to 60-second intervals before going back under.

For parents and caregivers in water situations with kids, the key is to be attentive at all times. Children playing in the water make noise. If they are quiet, something should be noted.

Conversely, adults who have been drinking should also be monitored. Natural water settings, such as lakes, rivers and the ocean, tend to be where adults get in trouble, over the higher risk for children in pools, according to the CDC. While boating, all passengers should be wearing life jackets, not inexpensive float toys.

Knowing who in your group is an experienced swimmer, and who isn’t, can be a huge boon to keeping everyone safe and sound.


Two rarely discussed and not well-known side effects of a near-drowning experience can be dry drowning and delayed drowning. Children who have asthma, known breathing issues, have had pneumonia or experienced acute respiratory distress syndrome are more at risk.

Dry drowning includes forceful spasms of the vocal cords and larynx — called a laryngospasm — that are the body’s attempt to shut down the passage of any liquid into the lungs, according to Yahoo.com.  It also shuts down passage of air and can cause liquid to be forced into the stomach and lungs.

Related: ‘Drowned’ man stands up, walks out of the river

Delayed drowning happens after a problematic incident in the water, wherein water is actually forced into the lungs and not discovered until it’s too late.

Both dangerous issues can result in death within one to 24 hours after a person has had a problem in the water. Because of this, the deaths from dry and delayed drowning are often called “parking lot drowning” by rescue workers, said EMT Kathrine Lloyd to Yahoo.com.

Here are some symptoms of dry and delayed drowning:

— Continued coughing, often uncontrollable, for many hours after incident

— Trouble breathing or shortened breath

— Chest pains

— Extreme fatigue and/or lethargy

— Change in typical behavior

— Face becomes pale

If someone you know is knocked down by a wave, swallows water or is sputtering and coughing after jumping in, they should be monitored closely. Prevention is key: Training new swimmers to close their mouths and hold their breath while jumping into the water helps immensely. Jumping into extremely cold water should be avoided.

According to WebMD, treatment is possible but should not be attempted at home.

“If it is caught early, dry drowning can be treated. The treatment involves supplying oxygen to the lungs and getting the breathing process restarted.”

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Hidden Costs of Having a Baby

June 3rd, 2014 | Comments Off on Hidden Costs of Having a Baby | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

The 7 Hidden Costs of Having a Baby

Having a baby is a life changing event. Not only are you adding a person into your family, but that little mini-you needs things like diapers, food, and furniture – which all adds up very quickly. CNN Money estimates that raising a child to the age of 18 costs over $225,000. We will be outlining seven items that may include some unexpected sticker shock, along with some tips on how to save.


Diapers may be the single most expensive item you invest in for your baby. From birth to their second birthday, you will spend an average of $2,500 on disposable diapers – not including wipes or diaper rash cream. What’s worse is that as of October 2013, diaper companies are now “downsizing” their product packages, but keeping prices consistent-which means that parents are paying the same amount for fewer diapers.

How do you save on diapers? Go cloth! Cloth diapers are much cheaper than disposables (anywhere from $250-$500 for a complete set) and can be used on other kids. They are also easily washable in home washing machines. Cloth diapers have evolved from the prefold and “trash bag” pants of the past. They now offer options that make them just as easy (and way cuter) than disposables.


At an average of $30 per can, formula costs can add up quickly. One can lasts roughly a week. On average, a formula feeding parent will spend $1,800 during the first year alone on formula.

One solution? Breastfeed! Many women encounter issues while breastfeeding, but statistics show that 90% of women can successfully breastfeed when given the correct support. Breastfeeding is scientifically proven to be better for your baby, better for post-partum weight loss, lowers cancer risks, and helps fight post-partum depression. There are many lactation consultants across the world dedicated to helping nursing mothers breastfeed successfully.

Nursery Furniture

Cribs, changing tables, mattresses – all of these items add up quickly for a nursery. The average price of a crib is $350. That does not include a mattress, changing table, or dresser. All of these items together will run an average of $700.

How to get the biggest bang for your buck? Buy convertible beds/furniture, or just purchase a crib, and use previously-owned pieces to finish off the nursery. Many changing tables go completely unused, so discuss what works best for your family. Buying a used crib is risky. Many manufacturers warn against purchasing used cribs as previous wear and tear may render the crib unstable.

Car seats

Car seats are an absolutely necessary cost for new parents – a cost that you will shell out at least three times during your child’s life. An infant car seat will cost anywhere from $50-$400, and will fit the child from birth until around 30 lbs. Next up is a convertible car seat, which will fit the child from 30-65 pounds. A convertible car seat can face forward or toward the rear of the vehicle, as most experts recommend having the child face forward until at least a year old. These seats range in price from $60-$500. The final piece you will buy for your child is a booster seat, which will cost $20-200. The major reason for the price differences is safety features.

Saving money on a car seat can be tricky. Attempt to find a car seat that fits the widest size ranges available. Buying used car seats is considered acceptable; however, you should always inspect the car seat before purchasing. Lift off all the fabric parts and inspect for cracks and dents. Car seats also have expiration dates, so be sure to double check that the car seat will be good for the entire usage period you are purchasing it for.

Hospital Bill

Childbirth is an intense experience, and can be costly as well. Depending on the birthing method, one can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000-$40,000.

While uncomplicated births are the most affordable, C-sections and other higher-involvement births rack up costs quickly. Epidurals and other pain relief methods will raise the price of the birth exponentially. Since many hospitals are aware of the financial constraints on new parents, many will have payment options available to help ease the sticker shock.


Childcare is a cost that many parents have to consider when planning a family. There is no strict average for childcare costs, as the numbers range due to factors such as the age of the child, health considerations, and length of stay. The average cost for childcare will depend on your region as well. Most daycares will range from $300-600 monthly for a two year old. Higher-income areas, like Boston and New York, average $1,000 per month for a two year old child in full time care.

While there is no direct way to save money on childcare, limiting the use of childcare, or applying for tax credits (where available) are wonderful ways to save.

Breast Pump

While breastfeeding is free, there are some parents who decide to purchase a breast pump so that family members and friends to feed the infant. Breast pumps can average in price from $100-$300.

Many new mothers find good prices online, and some even find that pumps are covered on their health insurance. So, before throwing down your hard earned money on a pump, make sure it’s not covered by your health insurance first.

Having a child is an expensive endeavor, to be sure. As you prepare for a little one entering the world, it’s smart to start budgeting and making financial decisions that will help your family thrive.

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Skin Cancer : Are You Safe?

June 3rd, 2014 | Comments Off on Skin Cancer : Are You Safe? | Posted in Family Health & Safety


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