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Weather Damage and Your Home

December 31st, 2019 | Comments Off on Weather Damage and Your Home | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Weather Damage and Your Home Insurance Policy

” Depending on the terms of your home insurance policy—some weather-related damages may not be covered.”

Depending on the terms of your home insurance policy, some weather-related damages may not be covered. To ensure you have sufficient coverage, you must first understand what weather claims are typically covered under a standard home insurance policy.

Perils typically covered under your insurance policy include:

  • Lightning strikes—Lightning may result in severe smoke or fire damage, or cause power surges that can damage appliances or electronics in your home.
  • Hail, wind and fallen trees—All three can lead to a variety of damages to your home that are typically covered under a homeowners policy.
  • Frozen pipes—Frozen pipes and a small variety of other water-related damages may be covered under your insurance policy. The source of the water can determine your insurance coverage.

Perils often excluded from your insurance policy include:

  • Sewer backups and flooding—Certain water damage that may be due to negligence will typically not be covered under your policy.
  • Hurricanes, floods and earthquakes—Most natural disasters are not covered under a standard home insurance policy. However, you may be able to purchase separate policies if certain disasters are common in your area.

Talk to your broker today to determine what weather damage is covered under your homeowners insurance policy.

New Year’s Resolution Trap

December 31st, 2019 | Comments Off on New Year’s Resolution Trap | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

Don’t Fall Into This New Year’s Resolution Trap

Historically, one of the top New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. Unfortunately, many people look to fad diets and weight loss products to achieve their goals quickly. While fad diets may prove effective initially, research shows that many people don’t find long-term success with these types of diets.

Lasting Lifestyle Changes vs. Quick Fixes

Instead of setting a goal to lose weight fast this New Year’s, set a goal to lead a healthier lifestyle. Common lifestyle New Year’s resolutions include the following:

  • Exercise regularly—Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, and to do strength training exercises of major muscle groups at least twice a week.
  • Maintain a well-balanced, healthy diet—Try to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein-rich foods and healthy fats. Make it a goal to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet.
  • Increase the amount of sleep you get—One of the best ways to become healthier is to get enough sleep. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep, the expert-recommended amount, per night.

Set Yourself Up for Success

According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. That’s why it’s so important to set yourself up for success when you’re choosing a resolution.

Regardless of what you choose as your New Year’s resolution, make sure it is a “SMART” goal—one that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely—to increase the odds that you will stick to it.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Credit Score & Insurance Premium

December 31st, 2019 | Comments Off on Credit Score & Insurance Premium | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

How Your Credit Score Can Affect Your Insurance Premiums

Your credit score is one of the most influential factors when it comes to financial outcomes in your life. Most people know that their credit scores affect their ability to obtain a mortgage or loan. What’s more, most people understand that the interest rates they pay on loans is tied to their credit scores. However, there are even more aspects of your life that are influenced by your credit score.

In fact, your insurance premiums can be directly affected by your credit score, which means that if your score isn’t great, you’ll be paying more for your coverage.

Insurance Scores

Many insurance companies use your credit score to generate a credit-based insurance score that is then used as a factor in determining your premiums. Credit-based insurance scores and your credit score are not the same thing. Insurance scores focus on only some factors of your credit history in order to gain an indication about how you manage risk. Factors that may be used include:

  • Payment history
  • Amount of debt
  • Length of credit history
  • Recent applications for new credit
  • Types of credit you have

In some states, insurance companies are limited in whether they can use credit-based insurance scores and, if so, to what extent.

While influential, credit-based insurance scores are only one factor in a company’s process of determining your premiums. Auto insurance companies, for example, could consider factors such as your location, age, the model and age of your vehicle, and how much you drive.

Improving Your Score

The easiest way to improve your credit-based insurance score is to increase your actual credit score. A healthier credit score can lead to lower premiums and put money back into your pockets. In addition, the higher your credit score, the better terms you will receive on loans and credit cards. As such, having a good credit score is helpful not only for the present, but also for your financial future.

Some steps that you should consider taking to improve your credit score include:

  • Be punctual—Paying your bills on time is a key factor in maintaining or improving your credit score.
  • Pay it back—Reducing the amount of overall debt that you have is a good way of improving your score.
  • Keep it open—Paying off a credit card feels great, but even if you don’t owe any money, you should still keep the account open.
  • Limit new debt—Keep the amount of applications you make for new credit to a minimum.
  • Maintain balance—Having a wide variety of types of credit, such as a mortgage, auto loan, credit card and personal loan can contribute positively to your credit score.

 

Contact Hodge, Hart & Schleifer today to learn more about how your credit score may be affecting your insurance premiums.

Selecting Tires for Winter Driving

December 31st, 2019 | Comments Off on Selecting Tires for Winter Driving | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Financial New Year’s Resolutions

December 31st, 2019 | Comments Off on Financial New Year’s Resolutions | Posted in Lifestyle

Resolve to do better next year.

The new year is a fantastic time to review your financial strength, pore over your budget and make big plans for next year. Not only is it a classic season for self-reflection and goal-making, but you can use year-end resources, such as annual bank statements and 12-month credit card summaries, to review spending. Consider taking a moment to meet with your financial advisor or tax professional to review what worked this year and make changes for the year ahead. Looking to make some financial New Year’s resolutions for the coming year? Here are 20 money resolutions to consider.

Identify financial goals.

Before you can make progress toward any financial goals, identify what they are. Are you hoping to earn a degree? Buy a home? Repay your auto loan? Finally contribute to your employer 401(k)? To increase your chances of success, “you have to be specific,” says Leanna Johannes, senior wealth strategist at PNC Wealth Management. A broad-based promise to “improve your finances” or “save more” may not demand the self-reflection or planning necessary to be successful. Take some real time to mull over what financial qualities you can improve this year. Consider your outlook, then outline a plan of attack.

Start tracking your budget.

Before you commit to sticking to a budget, resolve to track your spending each month. A range of apps and software programs can help you log spending. This important first step will let you identify spending leaks and diagnose where you’re going over budget. For a quick shortcut, look out for emails and mailings from your bank or credit card in January. You may receive a year-end summary or annual report from your credit card company or financial institution. This is a great resource with which to spend some time, identifying budgeting leaks, spending categories on which you tend to sink too much money and decisions about how to improve your spending for next year.

7 Biggest Technology Trends In 2020

December 31st, 2019 | Comments Off on 7 Biggest Technology Trends In 2020 | Posted in Lifestyle

We are amidst the 4th Industrial Revolution, and technology is evolving faster than ever. Companies and individuals that don’t keep up with some of the major tech trends run the risk of being left behind. Understanding the key trends will allow people and businesses to prepare and grasp the opportunities. As a business and technology futurist, it is my job to look ahead and identify the most important trends. In this article, I share with you the seven most imminent trends everyone should get ready for in 2020.

AI-as-a-service

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most transformative tech evolutions of our times. As I highlighted in my book ‘Artificial Intelligence in Practice’, most companies have started to explore how they can use AI to improve the customer experience and to streamline their business operations. This will continue in 2020, and while people will increasingly become used to working alongside AIs, designing and deploying our own AI-based systems will remain an expensive proposition for most businesses.

For this reason, much of the AI applications will continue to be done through providers of as-a-service platforms, which allow us to simply feed in our own data and pay for the algorithms or compute resources as we use them.

 

Currently, these platforms, provided by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, tend to be somewhat broad in scope, with (often expensive) custom-engineering required to apply them to the specific tasks an organization may require. During 2020, we will see wider adoption and a growing pool of providers that are likely to start offering more tailored applications and services for specific or specialized tasks. This will mean no company will have any excuses left not to use AI.

5G data networks

The 5th generation of mobile internet connectivity is going to give us super-fast download and upload speeds as well as more stable connections. While 5G mobile data networks became available for the first time in 2019, they were mostly still expensive and limited to functioning in confined areas or major cities. 2020 is likely to be the year when 5G really starts to fly, with more affordable data plans as well as greatly improved coverage, meaning that everyone can join in the fun.

 

Ultimate Bucket List for DC Families

December 31st, 2019 | Comments Off on Ultimate Bucket List for DC Families | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

While you pen your New Year’s resolutions consider adding a new tradition: the family bucket list. Whether you’re new to the area or have called DC home for decades, there is always something new to see and hidden gems to explore. Not sure where to start? We’ve created a seasonal checklist of things to see and do in DMV so you can create an epic road map for the year ahead (and, while you’re at it, the decade!). Happy New Year!

WINTER

1. Snow ball fight! If DC is lucky enough to get a good dusting of snow this winter, the Washington DC Snowball Fight Association (yes, it exists) hosts a flashmob-style, family-friendly snowball fight. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for deets.

2. Cure cabin fever by sliding, swinging, climbing, and jumping around at one of DC’s indoor playgrounds.

3. Skate circles around the Pentagon Row Ice Rink, and then thaw off by snuggling up at one of the rinks fire pits.

4. Visit Mount Vernon, the estate once occupied by George Washington, where this time of the year is filled with super fun candlelight tours, chocolate making demos, and camel sightings (really!).

5. Take a break from the brisk with a spot of hot tea at a “Girlie Girl” tea party.

6. Grab your coats and some hot chocolate, and head out to spy one of the DMV’s spectacular light displays.

7. Get stuffed on handmade pop tarts (think: peppermint fudge) at Ted’s Bulletin. P.S. Don’t worry, there’s still some time before swimsuit season.

8. Let your toddler explore mazes, obstacle courses, tunnels, and slides at Kid Junction, a 10,000 square foot fully-enclosed facility in Chantilly, VA.

9. Want to save some money? Snag a parent-approved free kid’s meal.

10. Spend the morning at the National Aquarium. With over 750 species of underwater critters, puffin feedings, a 4D Immersion Theater, and more, the aquarium has something for everyone.

11. It’s the season of giving so volunteer at Food and Friends, where you and your minis can prep and deliver hot meals to people living with challenging illnesses.

12. Eat dinner by a toasty fire at one of the DMVs restaurants that keep their fireplaces going all winter long. .

13. Chase butterflies at the Smithsonian’s indoor Butterfly Habitat Garden. Bonus: The climate-controlled environment is kept at a toasty 80 degrees.?

14. Spend the day—watching boaters, exploring historic houses, and noshing on cupcakes—in beautiful Georgetown.

15. Warm up with a bowl of chili (and/or a half smoke) from D.C.’s iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl.

16. Experience a jazz concert designed for young music lovers at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Gallery.

17. This wouldn’t be a bucket list if we didn’t encourage you to go skiing or snowboarding; and the best part is that you don’t even have to travel far to hit the slopes.