Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hurriance Preparation Step Two: Emergency Kit

    
Have you heard that age old saying that goes, "Hope for the best, but plan for the worst?" Well, this saying is pretty applicable when discussing how to prepare for hurricane season. We have already discussed the need for a food kit, but there is another kit that is just as important surviving the storms: an emergency kit. An emergency kit is a basic compilation of first aid supplies and other necessities, should the worst occur. In this post, I will explain to you in three easy steps how to make this kit.

1. First Aid- Make sure that your kit includes anything you might need to heal a wound. FEMA has posted some essentials that need to be included:
  • Two pairs of Latex or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to Latex
  • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
  • Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Burn ointment
  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
  • Thermometer
  • Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
  • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies
Non-prescription drugs:
  • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid
  • Laxative
Other first aid supplies:
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
2. Plan Evacuations- In an emergency, you will not have time to sit down and figure out where you are going to go. You need to have this planned ahead of time so that you are prepared when the storm comes.If your family is anything like mine, you are always on the road and usually in separate areas of the state. Therefore, make sure everyone has a map and knows the closest safehouse to their location. This will eliminate some of the stress of having to worry about family members who are not with you when the hurricane comes a'knocking.

3. Portable Kits- Going off of the idea of taveling families, it is a good idea to have an emergency kit in your car. I, personally, carry a duffle bag in the back of my car with water bottles, medical supplies, food, bathroom supplies, and a map. I know this sounds a little overkill, but we have all seen the damage that natural disasters can create. The events in the past few years have proven that storms are swift and merciless, so be prepared for everything.

Like I always mention, your properties require protection during the storms, also. Call us if you would like any advice on how to best protect yourself and your assets. We would love to help you!


By Kelly Jones

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flood Insurance to Sink or Swim?

     Congress is set to meet on May 31, 2012 to discuss the outcome of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This meeting takes place almost every year to decide whether or not to continue the program that provides over 90% of the nation's flood policies. Usually, congress meets each year and decides to extend the NFIP for one more year, but this time it's different. The plan is to extend the program for another sixty days and then reconvene to decide the extended fate.
     So, what does that mean for current and future policy holders? Many are concerned about their mortgages that require flood insurance. Well, you can rest assure. All policies that are currently in affect will remain untouched during the hiatus. All coverages will remain the same and most claims will be handled with the same care as always. Anyone wanting to bind a flood policy before midnight of May 31, 2012 with no waiting period will be able to bind coverage. The only people that are going to be affected are those looking for a new policy after May 31 and during hiatus. Basically what will happen is that if you turn in an application for a new policy after May 31, the company will hold your check and wait to bind the coverage until the court decides that they will continue the NFIP. If the court agrees upon the continuation of the program, your policy effective date will be backdated to the date on the application. However, if the court decides to discontinue the policy, your check will be refunded and you will not be offered coverage.
     Now, what happens to people trying to buy a new home that requires flood insurance while court is in process? There is going to be an estimate 3-4 week hiatus that will make applying for mortgages slightly difficult. However, there is a way around this. The following announcements have been taken directly from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding the NFIP Reauthorization:
  • For loans closing prior to the first day of hiatus, when the application is dated on or before closing and the premium payment is from the escrow account (lender's check), title company, or settlement attorney, and is received within 30 days from the closing date, the policy can be issued effective the date of the closing.
  • For loans closing prior to the first day of hiatus, when the application is dated on or before closing and the premium payment is not part of the closing (i.e. the applicant or applicant's representative check or credit card) and the application and premium are received within 10 days of the closing date, the policy can be issued effective the date of the closing.
  • For loans closing on or after the first day of hiatus, when the application is dated prior to the hiatus and the application and premium are received within 10 days of the closing date, the policy can be issued effective the date of closing.
     All in all, if you have a current flood policy, you are fine until your renewal (at that point, the renewal will be affected by whether or not the court decides to continue the program). If you are buying a new home and need the flood insurance for your mortgage, follow the previously stated steps. If you are trying to bind a new policy (and it's not for a new home), then you will have to wait until after the hiatus or you will have to submit your application and check before midnight on May 31, 2012.
     If you have any questions at all, I strongly encourage you to call our agency. Whether you are a client of ours or not, we would love to help you with any concerns that you might have! Our contact number is
813-689-8878.


By Kelly Jones

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hurricane Preparation Step One: Food Kit


Copyright © 2012  Lee County Government Southwest Florida
          Yes, Floridians, it is that wonderful time of the year, again! The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, storms are brewing-- yes, storms are brewing. Hurricane season is approaching and, according to our local forecasters, it is going to be a bad one! So, I would like to devote the next few days to tips and tricks that will help you and your family ride out the hurricane season with as few bumps as possible.
     One of the easiest-- and most important-- steps is creating a food kit. This does not have to be an expensive process; most of the items are probably already in your pantry. Things such as peanut butter and tuna are great sources of protein that do not require refrigeration. This might seem like a simple concept, but AVOID foods that require refrigeration. The coolers and ice chests will be used for more important things that we will discuss later in the article. Try to find foods that are high in fiber, as they will be more hunger satisfying. Kashi and Nature Valley make foods that are high in both fiber and protein and have long shelf lives. Just remember to stay true to your family's diet. Find foods that satisfy their nutritional AND taste needs. Someone who doesn't like tuna is going to like it even less when they have been without a shower and air conditioning for a week. I cannot reiterate it enough: find foods that fit your family! Also, it is good to have fruit, such as oranges and apples, on hand. These do not require refrigeration and will provide the vitamins and nutrients that you needs. Not to mention, they will be a great pallet cleanser after a lot of peanut butter and granola!
     Another important thing to remember is to plan for your family's needs. Do you have anyone who is diabetic? Make sure that the foods you buy do not have high amounts of sugar or carbohydrates. Do you have any infants or pregnant women? Make sure that your food kit reflects the medical and dietary needs of each person in your household. If anyone has any medications (or infant formula) that needs to be refrigerated, gather a couple week's supply and place it in an ice cooler about a day or two before the storm hits. This way, if the power is out for a week or two, you will still have the medications that you need.
     Last, but not least, do not forget to get gallons of water for your family! If they power is off, you will not have access to water. According to the TampaBayTimes, a family of four needs about 28 gallons of water for seven days. Keep this in mind when planning your food kit. A great article to look at for more preparation tips is http://www.tampabay.com/news/weather/hurricanes/article509780.ece.

Written by Kelly Jones

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Memorial Day Recipe #3: Choc It To Me!

     Sometimes, the hardest thing about holidays is being able to eat all of the delicious food and still keep to your diet. If you're anything like me, you love chocolate desserts more than just about anything in the world. Today's recipe features a mouth-watering chocolate dessert for only 153 calories per serving! In a nut shell, this is a chocolate cheesecake that makes it OK to get that second piece!


Ingredients:
One 8-oz. tub fat-free cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
(like Egg Beaters Original)
1/3 cup
Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated), or
HG Alternative
1 drop vanilla extract
Half of an 18.25-oz. box (about 1 3/4 cups) moist-style devil's food cake mix

3/4 cup club soda



1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking liners.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, egg substitute, sweetener, and vanilla extract. With an electric mixer set to medium speed, beat until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk cake mix with soda until smooth.

Evenly distribute cake mixture among the lined cups of the muffin pan. Smooth out the mixture with the back of a spoon.

Evenly distribute cream-cheese mixture among the cups. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out mostly clean, 24 - 26 minutes. (Make sure the chocolate cake layer is cooked through.)

Allow to cool completely. Enjoy! (P.S. Refrigerate leftovers.)

MAKES 12 SERVINGS
Serving Size: 1 cupcake (1/12th of recipe)
Calories: 153
Fat: 4.5g
Sodium: 312mg
Carbs: 25g
Fiber: 0.5g
Sugars: 15.5g
Protein: 4.5g

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Memorial Day Recipe #2: Watermelon Sherbet

     Nothing says summertime like a nice, cold piece of watermelon! Whether you're having a picnic with your family or relaxing on your front porch, watermelon just seems to be the perfect summer snack to keep you cool and refreshed. So, with the holiday approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to mix up this summertime staple by creating a watermelon sherbet! This recipe was posted by Terry Wilson at Allrecipes.com. The steps are simple and the prep and cook time is only twenty minutes! Just be sure to give yourself enough time to let it sit in the freezer for about five hours before serving. This would be the perfect dish to make first thing in the morning, so that you can just let it sit in the freezer while you prepare for the rest of the day. It is simple to make and it is sure to be a hit at all of your summertime celebrations!

Photographer:
NotQuiteAllHere

Ingredients

  • 4 cups diced seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream

Directions

  1. Combine the watermelon, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a large mixing bowl; stir to coat evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Blend the mixture in a blender until smooth; return to the bowl.
  3. Pour the cold water into a saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water; let stand 1 minutes. Place the saucepan over low heat; cook for 2 minutes. Stir the gelatin mixture into the blended watermelon mixture. Add the heavy cream; beat with an electric hand mixer at medium speed until the mixture is fluffy.
  4. Transfer the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions until it reaches "soft-serve" consistency. Transfer ice cream to a one- or two-quart lidded plastic container; cover surface with plastic wrap and seal. For best results, ice cream should ripen in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 227 | Total Fat: 11.1g | Cholesterol: 41mg Powered by ESHA Nutrient Database







Monday, May 21, 2012

Memorial Day Recipe #1: Pasta Caprese

     In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day, I would like to share some recipes that will help spice up your celebration! You don't have to be a trained chef or have a million hours to dedicate to the kitchen; these recipes are simple, quick, and are sure to be a hit at your family gathering (or whatever you plan to do)! The first recipe that I would like to share is Pasta Caprese. I found this recipe on the Food Network website and it looks absolutely delicious!

Photograph by Steve Giralt

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound pasta, such as campanelle, penne or fusilli
  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Directions

Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add sugar, if desired (depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes). Add the tomatoes and gently toss. Marinate at room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and toss. Stir in the basil and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, tossing occasionally, until serving.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five Driving Tips for Memorial Day

Memorial Day Driving: 5 Tips
Memorial Day is different this year because more people are planning to drive than last year. Here are a few tips on staying out of trouble...

Memorial Day marks the start of the summer driving season. For most people, summer trips mean freedom and fun. In fact, more people plan to drive this year than last, according to AAA. We're all ready to escape from the everyday and leave worries about the economy behind as we enjoy lower gas prices and warmer weather.
However, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, Memorial Day weekend is the year's deadliest three-day holiday period. In addition, the number of uninsured motorists continues to rise, and people are choosing to keep older cars instead of buying new ones. You're more likely to be hit by someone driving an old car that has no insurance.
Does all of this mean you should scrap your travel plans and stay at home? No! It just means you need to be a little more prepared than usual. What will help you avoid problems on your Memorial Day trip?
Exciting Tips!
1. Buckle (everyone) up.
It's a dangerous time to travel because there are more people out on the road, and over Memorial Day weekend, many of them are driving drunk. That's part of the reason police kick off the Click It or Ticket seatbelt campaign around this time. So, party responsibly and wear your seatbelt. And don't start the car until the kids are buckled into a car seat or booster as well – even for short trips.
2. Check your auto insurance.
This is even more boring than the safety tip, but we're an insurance website! With so many uninsured drivers, now's a good time to make sure you have UM/UIM coverage on your policy. Also, although your insurance generally extends coverage to Canada, the same is not true for Mexico, so you'll need to purchase Mexican insurance from a reputable company near the border.
3. Understand rental car insurance.
If you're renting a car, you'll be asked whether you want their "insurance," and you could be wasting money if you say yes. First, find out if you're already covered. Many companies extend your policy's coverage to include rental cars, and your credit card company may cover damage to the car itself. Find out more in our article, "Should You Buy Rental Car Insurance."
4. Don't be distracted.
A recent study found that driver distraction matters more than anyone guessed, with almost 80 percent of accidents related to a lack of attention. So no cell phones or texting, and ignore the kids while driving. Pull over and park if you need to do something. Music, conversation, and drowsiness are also dangerous, but sometimes it's hard to avoid them.
5. Have your Roadside Assistance and claims reporting numbers handy.
Know if your car insurance policy includes rental reimbursement and roadside assistance coverages. If your car breaks down and you need to have it towed or rent another one, who will pay for it? You don't need roadside assistance coverage on your insurance policy if you already belong to an auto club. However, you might consider adding it if you only have towing and labor coverage – which doesn't cover mechanical breakdown not related to an accident.

By Monica Hilton, Fearnow Insurance

Monday, May 14, 2012

Auto Insurance Premium to Decrease?

     Many people are wondering about the constant increase in premium for their Florida auto insurance. While this might be related to personal driving activity, it is also related to insurance fraud. The cost of insurance directly correlates to the amount of money that the insurance company pays out. As the incidents of staged car accidents and fraudulent injury claims continue to cause the insurance companies to pay large amounts in law suits and medical/car repair bills, the policy holders suffer. The insurance companies are paying out more than they are bringing in, which is causing a steady increase in premium in an attempt to compensate for the high expenses caused by insurance fraud. According to a recent article in the Tampa Tribune, "the two biggest areas for fraud in the state are Tampa and Miami" (Steve Bousquet, Gov. Rick Scott signs law to cut down on no-fault car insurance fraud).
     However, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. Gov. Rick Scott signed a law on Friday, May 11th, declaring that there will be many changes to the auto PIP coverage. Originally, each driver was required to carry $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which would cover their medical bills in the event of an accident (regardless of fault). The PIP is always the first coverage to pay out and is provided by the individual's own insurance company. The new law now states that, while people are still required to carry $10,000 PIP coverage, there are higher restrictions enforced regarding what constitutes as emergency medical need. Individuals are now required to see a regular doctor or emergency room within 14 days of the accident for treatment. "Benefits will no longer pay for acupuncture and massage therapy, which state lawmakers decided were not medically necessary" (Bousquet). Only people deemed in "emergency medical state" will receive the full $10,000 coverage. Otherwise, the individual will receive $2,500 to cover medical expenses.
     While this might raise mixed feelings about the new law, the overall purpose is to keep down the cost of auto insurance. Over the past few years, insurance companies have been forced to increase their premiums to keep up with the growing fraudulent activity, which has made auto insurance inaccessible to many people in the state. The hope is that this new law will help decrease insurance fraud, which will lower the premium and allow more people to be able to adequately insure themselves. Because this new bill has created quite a few changes in insurance coverage, please feel free to contact our agency with any questions. We want everyone to be informed of their coverage. You can reach us at 813-689-8878.Tampa Tribune article regarding new PIP law






Written by Kelly Jones

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day

     Mother's day is just around the corner-- literally. So, here are a few gift options in our community that will show your mother how incredible you think she is. These options are found on Groupon and are still available for purchase. This is the perfect option if you do not have time to stop at the store and you still have not picked up a gift. Just click, print, and tie a bow around it! (All of this information is provided from Groupon).
   
     1) Planet Beach Contempo Spa- locations in Brandon, Fowler Ave in Tampa, and Lutz.
           -$20 for any three spa services of your choice (a $150 value)
           -$25 for any six spa services of your choice (a $210 value)
           -$35 for any nine spa services of your choice (a $315 value)

     2) Charlie Parker Pottery- location in St. Petersburg
           -$30 for a two-hour BYOB wheel-throwing pottery lesson for one (a $60 value)
           -$55 for a two-hour BYOB wheel-throwing pottery lesson for two (a $120 value)
           -$160 for a three-hour BYOB wheel-throwing pottery party for six (a $540 value)

     3)Ophelia's on the Bay- location in Sarasota
          -$15 for $30 worth of seafood, continental fare, and drinks
           The menu includes lobster-infused blue-crab bisque ($11), blackened Trini yellowfin tuna
           ($30), and barbecue pork tenderloin ($27).

     Whether your special woman needs a day of relaxation, a night of artsy fun, or a nice meal on the water, you can find the perfect gift through any of these options (or a combination of them)! The value is phenomenal and goes to support our local businesses. Again, if you haven't bought a mother's day present yet, I strongly recommend one of these options.
     As always, we care about the community here at Fearnow Insurance and we wish all of the mothers a wonderful and happy mother's day! Proverbs 31:10, 25-30.







Written by Kelly Jones

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Changing Times

   Due to the ever-advancing age of technology, insurance companies have had to make a few changes to policy coverages. While these are generally small changes, they are not greatly advertised, which places the customer at risk. One change that seems to be baffling commercial companies is that hard copies of valuable papers are insured separately from their electronic copies. Because of the electronic banking, the insurance limits for the hard copies have greatly decreased, becoming insufficient in most cases. According to Donald S. Malecki, CPCU, author of “Valuable Papers and Records: Know Your Limits” in Rough Notes magazine:
“Another problem is that not all policies that provide coverage for valuable papers and records contain definitions of precisely what is covered. This can wreak havoc when there is a loss and coverage is sought. One form that defines valuable papers and records is the Businessowners Standard policy BP 0100.06 12 of the American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS). It is defined to mean: written, printed, or otherwise inscribed documents and records. This includes books, maps, films, drawings, abstracts, deeds, mortgages, and manuscripts.
     An example of this scenario is in the case of Minnesota O&M Surgery, P.A., et al. v. Charter Oak Fire Insurance Company (2011). Very briefly, this case describes the damages of X-rays and medical slides that were ruined by a fire. The policy insured the valuable papers for $25,000. The smoke damages alone cost more than $500,000 (Malecki, Rough Notes). As one can see, this was a very bad case where the customers were underinsured and did not know their change in limits.
     While this might not seem like a big deal, or maybe might not seem like it applies to everyone, this is just another great example of why customers should always know their insurance limits. Often times, people assume that nothing in their policy has changed, instead of reading the declarations page of every new policy period. This is the purpose of our agency at Fearnow. We look over everything and discuss any changes with our customers. Our knowledge and expertise in all areas of insurance ensures that the customer is receiving the right amount of insurance. Stop by our office for any coverage questions. We are always happy to help!







Written by Kelly Jones