Identity Theft Protection: A guide to what & when to shred


Wondering which financial documents to keep and which to shred? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers this handy shredding infographic along with an accompanying article A pack rat’s guide to shredding. Both offer helpful advice on what security experts say you should shred immediately (ATM receipts, credit card offers, sales receipts) to what you should keep forever (birth certificates, tax returns) and everything in between. This is only one of the many great Identity Theft resources available from the FTC.

Talk to your local insurance agent about whether your homeowners policy covers identity theft and if not, have a talk about identity theft insurance. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a good primer on ID Theft Insurance.


Happy Father’s Day!

Wishing Dads everywhere a fabulous Father’s Day. We thought this video tribute to one person’s Dad was pretty impressive. Vietnamese architect Le Phong Giao composes incredible animated paintings in sand. This one is called “This Is My Father’s World.” It’s touching and sweet.

For a little bit lighter take on things, we point you to our post last year From the warm & fuzzy to the hilarious: Video tributes to Fathers. Don’t miss the “babies & Dads” segment!

It’s Men’s Health Week!

June - Men's Health Month

June is Men’s Health month, and this being the week leading up to Father’s Day, it’s also Men’s Health Week. The purpose of Men’s Health Week & Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. On average, men live about 5 years less than their female counterparts – maybe that is directly related to the fact that men make half as many visits for prevention as women. Promoting men’s health information is a way to change that. The photo in this post is from one of an excellent series of posters and flyers available at Men’s Health Month – why not print and share in your workplace?

Also on point, Dr. David Samadi looks at 7 Things Men Must Know About Their Health, which includes interesting and important information to know, such as the fact that more younger men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer – an nearly six-fold increase in the last twenty years.
He also notes that men who exercise may reduce age-related cholesterol.

His fifth point offers a Men’s Health Screening Guide by Age, valuable information that we think deserves sharing:

For men in their 30s
Complete physical every 2 years
Get blood pressure checked every year
Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
Testicular self-exam every month

For men in their 40s
Get blood pressure checked every year
Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
Testicular self-exam every month
Complete physical every 2 years
Baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exam (DRE)
Stool test (for colon and rectal cancers) every year

For men in their 50s
Get blood pressure checked every year
Cancer screenings for thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth and skin every three years
Cholesterol test for total LDL, HDL (the good kind) every three years
Testicular self-exam every month
A sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy (for colon cancers) every three to four years or as recommended by your healthcare provider
PSA and DRE exam every year

For another good checklist, the Men’s Health Network offers Health Screening Timeline Checklists for both Men and Women – it’s a PDF you can download and share.

With Father’s Day coming up, here’s some good health news from NPR for men who love golf: Take A Swing At This: Golf Is Exercise, Cart Or No Cart. The article cites the The World Golf Foundation in estimating that “golfers who walk an 18-hole course clock about 5 miles and burn up to 2,000 calories.” But even those who use carts get a pretty good workout, burning about 1,300 calories during an 18-hole round.

Plus, there’s a good stress-relieving benefit: “There’s also a mental boost for lots of players. “There’s rarely a bad day on the golf course,” Gary Metzger says. “You’re breathing good air and looking around at the nice scenery.”

Rental Insurance for the College Graduate


Trying to think of a gift for a special college graduate? If you lean to practical gift giving, rental insurance might be just the ticket! OK, it might not have the same immediate allure as cash, but it could be much more valuable in the long run. Even if you don’t want to give it as a gift, you can do the young renter a huge service by helping them to understand the importance of this coverage – and by dispelling a few myths, in the process.

Homeowners understand the importance of home insurance. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that about 95% of all homeowners have insurance. Renters not so much. In a 2014 survey, only 37% of renters said they had rental insurance coverage.

Rental Insurance Myths

There are several misunderstandings about what rental insurance is and why it’s important. Here are a few myths and objections that we often hear.

My landlord has insurance. Many renters are under the false impression that they are covered under landlord’s policy but the landlord’s policy is for the building. If a fire or some other disaster occurred, a renter’s personal possessions would not be covered. Plus, a landlord’s policy would not help you with expenses for temporary living if the building is destroyed or for any bodily injury lawsuits that could happen if someone is injured in your apartment.

I don’t own enough to make it worth it. That’s rarely true. Look around your apartment at furnishings, electronics, kitchen goods, clothing, books … how much would it cost you to replace those things if you had to start from scratch? Plus, renters insurance also offers liability protection against bodily injury or property damage lawsuits and coverage for additional living expenses if you are displaced from your home in a disaster.

I can’t afford it. Rental insurance is surprisingly affordable. III did a national assessment of average rental and homeowners premiums in 2012 and found that the average rental premium was $187 a year. It can work out to as little as $12 to $14 a month. The amount you (or your premium) will vary by state and by what type of and how much coverage you need.

I’m not sure what or how much to buy. An independent agent can help you determine what you need and can tell you about various options – such as “actual cost” vs “replacement value.” They can advise you on deductibles and whether there are any add-ons that would be beneficial to your unique circumstances. A good agent will be able to get quotes with several insurance companies and will advise you about any available discounts. For example, there are sometimes discounts if you combine a rental policy with your car insurance.

Learn more about Renters Insurance

Renters Insurance Checklist
What you need to know about rental insurance


The Odds of Dying: Perceived risk vs reality

June is National Safety Month sponsored by the National Safety Council. It’s a time to think about reducing leading causes of injury and death at the workplace, in our homes and in our communities. They’ve issued an interesting infographic on the Odds of Dying, noting that Americans often worry about the wrong things – check out the events we think will kill us vs. the ones that actually do, according to the numbers. (You can click for a bigger version).

If you’d like more detail on your personal odds, we have a prior post with a variety of mortality calculators to help you assess your own personal odds for longevity. They include life expectancy tables and a few interactive calculators. We leave you with two words: Life Insurance!


Deluge central: tips & tools for heavy rains & floods

Rain is great for spring growth, particularly when so many parts of the country are experiencing drought, but it would be nice to have the rain is more measured amounts! It’s pretty soggy right now and rain may continue off and on through this evening. Here are some heavy rain & flooding resources, tips and safety notes.

Does homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?

Are you covered? Check your flood risk


Insurance Information Institute: Flood preparedness

Flood risk scenarios

Flood Insurance Claims Handbook – FEMA/NFIP

Consumer Reports: How to drive safely in heavy rain and wind

Turn Around, Don’t Drive
“Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths is due to walking into or near flood waters. People underestimate the force and power of water. Many of the deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Of these drownings, many are preventable, but too many people continue to drive around the barriers that warn you the road is flooded. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters. ”

Flash flood safety (PDF)

How to dry a wet basement

Drying out a wet basement

Learn the signs of stroke: FAST action can save lives

Strokes are the leading cause of disability and the #5 cause of death in the U.S. Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke. One out six people will have a stroke in his or her lifetime. Despite this, too few people know the warning signs of a stroke. Yet fast recognition of stroke signs can make a huge difference between life and death or between full recovery and lifelong disability. May is American Stroke Month. Learn the signs and symptoms of a stroke and pass them along – you could save a life.


Don’t let dogs take a bite out of your insurance

dog-bitesMay 17-23 is Dog Bite Prevention Week. The USPS and its partners in the annual promotion report that “… small children, the elderly, and Postal Service carriers — in that order — are the most frequent victims of dog bites. It is also stated that the number of dog bites exceeds the reported instances of measles, whooping cough and mumps, combined. Dog bite victims account for up to five percent of emergency room visits.”

The good news is that the number of dog bite claims are going down – they dropped by 4.7% in 2014. But the bad news is that the average cost per dog bite claim is climbing. In 2014, it was up 15 percent to $32,072 – compared with $27,862 in 2013. Pretty expensive, right?

But that is only part of the story: Insurance Information Institute reports that dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners liability pay outs last year. Ouch.

If you have a dog, it’s your responsibility to train, control and socialize your pet to minimize the potential for dog bites. It’s also just plain smart from an economic point of view, as you can see by claim costs. And whether you have a dog or not, it’s important to lean about how to prevent bites, how to train kids to be safe around dogs, and what to do if you are bitten. Here are some resources:

The true meaning of Friday: Fun animal videos!

While we always like to talk insurance, sometimes you need to focus on the real reason the Internet was invented: amazing animal videos. Normally, we’re partial to cute cats and dogs, but we want to give the rest of the animal kingdom equal time. Here’s a collection of a few of our animal clip finds to kick off your weekend.

Mostly when we see cows, they’re just standing around. But not on the first day of spring when the farmer lets them out of the barn – they dance and leap after having been cooped up. We know how they feel!

Seals are apparently just the doggies of the ocean!

Many of us are worried about privacy issues – this chimpanzee is taking matters in his own hands. Hope the drone was insured.

There’s a zoo in Japan that offers a spa day for its capybaras on the coldest day each winter. It looks like fun!

It’s Bike to Work Week – find New England resources

bike_month_web_900x900May is National Bike Month and this week – May 11 to 15 – is Bike to Work Week, culminating in Bike to Work Day, on Friday, May 15. Biking instead of driving is good for the environment and good for you, too! We’ve gathered some links to New England resources to find local events and resources.

Wear a helmet, follow the law – find your state laws – and get some smart cycling tips from the National Bike League.

Don’t forget to protect your investment – the Insurance Information Institute offers a rundown on Bicycle Safety and Insurance. They note that: “Bicycles are covered under the personal property section of standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. This coverage will reimburse you, minus your deductible, if your bike is stolen or damaged in a fire, hurricane or other disaster listed in your policy.”  But if you are a serious biker with very expensive, high-end bikes, you might want to talk to your agent about a rider to your policy to get additional coverage. To further protect your investment, consider registering your bike at the National Bike Registry.