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The Newsletter
Filing a Homeowners Claim? Follow These 4 Easy Steps
If you're one of the fortunate souls who has never had to file a homeowners insurance claim, be forewarned: the process can be intimidating. However, while it's important to follow certain procedures, the actual steps are fairly simple. If your house or personal property is damaged or burglarized, here's what to do:
  1. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Tell them what happened, providing as much information as possible. Have your policy number or the name of your agent available. If you are unable to stay in your home, be sure to let them know where you can be reached. Keep in mind some companies offer mobile apps to make filing even easier.
  2. Complete any necessary paperwork. This may sound daunting, but your agent can walk you through it. Required paperwork includes a proof-of-loss form. As well, an adjuster may come to the site to confirm damage and complete a report. If your home was burglarized or vandalized, you'll also need to file a police report. For your own records, document your contacts with insurance representatives and officers, writing down their names, titles, and dates.
  3. Document damage. Take pictures. Use your home inventory to help with this process. If possible, safely make temporary repairs to protect your property from further damage.
  4. Record your expenses. If you complete temporary repairs or incur additional living expenses, track these costs for reimbursement.
As you complete this process, stay in contact with your insurance agent, who can partner with you to navigate these steps.

Are You Being Served? (And Do You Really Want to Be?)
Being Served
Self-checkout options first appeared in grocery stores more than a decade ago, offering shoppers a "quick" and "easy" alternative to lining up. Now, self-serve alternatives appear everywhere, from fast food restaurants to movie theatres. But do they truly offer consumers ease, speed, and convenience? Maybe not.

In a recent episode of the television show Marketplace, shoppers were provided with identical grocery lists; some were asked to use the self-checkout, while others lined up for a cashier. Interestingly, the cashier was faster, and made fewer mistakes. The show noted that mistakes are common among self-serve customers, who often enter the incorrect code or push the wrong buttons. Employee input is required to fix the mistakes.

The technology does offer companies proven benefits. As Marketplace reported, an early experiment by McDonald's found that consumers spent an average of 30 percent more when using self-checkouts, possibly because they might be too embarrassed to upsize their order in front of the cashier.

Of course, the self-serve option saves money that would otherwise be spent by businesses to staff checkout lanes, supply desks, and kiosks. According to a report on self-service published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the cost of an airline staff member check-in is $3. The cost of a passenger checking in via a self-service kiosk is 14 cents.

For many consumers, it's not about time savings or convenience; it's about doing it yourself. These days, many shoppers prefer to take control of the process and navigate the checkout or check-in process by themselves.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself About Insurance

Life insurance can be an important component of a financial plan, but it's important for you to do your homework to ensure that you get the policy you need. 

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself:

Do you need life insurance? The primary purpose of life insurance is to protect the people you leave behind - your spouse, children, or others who depend on you.

Can you get coverage? Be upfront when applying for coverage: If you don't, your claim may be disallowed, and your loved ones left with nothing.

What kind of life insurance is best for you? Pure term policies aren't investment vehicles - you pay a premium, and the policy pays your beneficiaries a certain amount when you die. Whole polices combine term policies with an investment product, and build cash value.

How much do you need? Consider your family's income needs over the course of your policy. This includes expenses such as mortgage payments, college tuition, medical bills, and funeral costs.

How much can you afford? Many people who buy whole life insurance often buy too little, leaving themselves underinsured.

What length should your term be? The length of your term will depend on your long-term income outlook. 

Do you want any riders? Disability and other waivers are available; be sure to look into them.

Can you to convert the policy? If you outlive your term life insurance policy, you may want to convert it near the end of the term so you won't need another medical exam to qualify. 

Is the insurance company stable? Life insurance companies are usually in excellent financial health, but you should still check out their rating. 

Do you know how to shop for insurance? Of course, you can buy life insurance on the Internet, but for a policy that's tailored to your needs, consult your insurance advisor, who is familiar with your financial situation and your goals.

Stop Thief! Protect Against Business Burglaries
If a thief breaks into your house and steals your TV, your homeowners insurance policy usually covers your losses. But what about a business burglary? Will insurance save you from these thieves?

Typically, yes. A business owner policy (BOP) covers theft. However, it does work a bit differently from homeowners insurance by providing additional protection business owners need. In addition to theft, fire, and liability, a BOP includes business interruption insurance.

If a thief walks away with the tools you need for construction work, the computer required to run your office, or the inventory you rely on for sales, your policy will help cover your lost operation time. It will keep money coming in while you are unable to run your business. 

But like homeowners insurance, business owner coverage offers either actual value or replacement value for reimbursement of stolen property. 

If you receive actual value, you will get the worth of the item(s) minus depreciation. With replacement value, you receive the amount it will cost to replace the item. The type of coverage you have for your business helps determine the rate of the premium. 

Each owner must decide which is the most cost-effective for his or her business. Consult with your agent for advice on determining what is best for you.

Regardless of coverage type, you should keep complete records of all items at your business site. This can include receipts, photos, or a video documenting what is on the premises. This will provide proof for your claim and help expedite the process.
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The Dangers of Shopping for Insurance Online
Buying auto or homeowners insurance on the internet seems easy and cheap. But is it?

Discover how relying on the web to protect your most valuable assets could cost you more - and put you and your loved ones at risk - by requesting my free guide, "The Dangers of Shopping Online for Insurance."
Just reply to this email and I'll send it right out to you.

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Recipe: Quinoa and Portobello Mushrooms with Tahini Dressing
Serves 4 as a main dish for "Meatless Mondays"
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup chopped spinach
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons honey
1 garlic clove, minced
2 lemons, halved
4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed and cleaned
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Place quinoa in a bowl. Add spinach and raisins and season to taste.

For the sauce, whisk together lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil, tahini, honey, and garlic. Season. Add a tablespoon of water if sauce is too thick.

Heat a skillet to medium-high heat. Add remaining oil. Fry mushrooms top side down until browned. Place lemons cut side down in the same skillet until caramelized. Season mushrooms, turn, and cook until brown and softened (3-5 minutes per side). Place quinoa on a platter. Top with sliced mushrooms. Drizzle with sauce and almonds. Serve with lemons on the side and remaining tahini dressing.
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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