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Spring Cleaning: Remember to Dust Off Your Insurance
With the arrival of spring, many homeowners equip themselves with cleaning supplies and tackle the accumulated winter grime. If you're making a checklist for spring chores this month, include a quick cleanup of your personal insurance policies. This yearly review of your coverage should include:

Top-to-bottom cleaning: Review your home from shingles to cellar. Have you made any renovations or improvements since last spring? Did you add a room or remodel a kitchen? Examine your policy to ensure it offers proper coverage to rebuild your home to its current state.

Asset organization: Go through your stuff. Did you receive expensive jewelry for Christmas or purchase any other valuable items in the past year? Check to see if their total value exceeds the limits on your homeowners policy. If so, consider a personal property endorsement or floater to get proper coverage.

Car detailing: What is the current value of your vehicle? You might be able to save money by lowering your coverage. Here's a good rule of thumb: if your car is worth less than $1,000 or less than 5 times your premium, comprehensive coverage may no longer be cost-effective.

Rain forecast review: Do you need an umbrella? If your assets have increased, they might be at risk if you are showered with lawsuits. Consider an umbrella policy, which kicks in if you reach the liability limit of a standard homeowner or auto policy.

To complete your spring cleaning, consult with your agent to determine what changes, if any, are best for you this season.

Was This Year's April Fools' Day as Cyber-Pranky as Last's?
April fools
While April Fools' Day has always been a day dedicated to prank-playing, it was verging on an old, tired event for kids who pranked their parents. But with the Internet came new ways to prank - some good, some maybe not so good.

The jury's out on whether this April Fools' Day was better (worse?) than last year's. In the meantime, we revisit some of 2016's crazy cyber pranks:

Google mic drop

This "joke" was a mistake. Google celebrated the day by adding a working feature to Gmail that allowed users to end an e-mail thread with an instant GIF of a Minion character dropping a microphone. But people reported that, due to the button's proximity to "Send," they accidentally used the prank GIF for work e-mails. Google pulled it shortly after.

Netflix's John Stamos documentary

Netflix partnered with the stars of TV's Full House on this prank, which saw the entertainment company tweet about a trailer for an upcoming John Stamos documentary. The doc was supposed to highlight the actor's other career as a musician, and was complemented by a video of a fake Stamos meltdown when he realizes Netflix was joking about the documentary. Or was the meltdown fake?

Trader Joe's closes

The day before April Fools', Yahoo ran a fake news article with a headline that read "Trader Joe's to Close All Stores by 2017; Plans to Discontinue Products." Fans were up in arms until the foodie grocery store denied involvement. Yahoo had to delete the item.

So, how did 2017 compare?

Winning Friends & Influencing People the 21st-Century Way
Dale Carnegie's classic how-to book still makes a lot of sense: even in the 21st century, it's human nature to want (and need) friends.

In a recent FastCompany article, Stephanie Vozza points to a Harvard University study that indicates making friends is important for good health: "A lack of strong relationships increases your risk of premature death from all causes by 50%."

But finding new friends can be tricky.
Of course, we live in a digital world, and if making online friends is your goal, it's a cinch. Mind you, some of those new digital friends may turn out to be bots or algorithms, but they can give the impression of friendship.

It's different with real people. And if you want to know who would make a good friend and who would not, there's lots of advice available. Notes Jon Levy in Speed, a pop-up blog from New York Magazine, "Don't invest too much time engaging with the wrong people. When approaching someone, begin with a litmus test." For example, "If you wave at someone from across the room and they wave back, they're friendly, you can approach."

Levy also says we are more likely to connect with someone with whom we have something in common. Just find out what, and connect.

Vozza, too, has suggestions for making new friends, including not waiting for others to make the first move, and following up on their overtures.

It seems the basic tenets of Dale Carnegie's system still work. You can make real friends. Even in 2017.

Prevent Homeowner Claims with This Checklist
A few simple maintenance tasks can help prevent major liability insurance claims. The following tasks, completed annually, will help protect you from several types of homeowners insurance claims, such as:

Inspect your driveway and walkways. Are these areas safe and smooth? Repair any broken, cracked, or uneven areas. This helps prevent accidents on your property. And don't forget to fix fences and gates.

Winter weather may have taken a toll on your home's exterior. Check hinges, latches, and locks to ensure they work. If you have a pool, maintaining these deterrents is especially important to keep your own kids or neighboring children away from the pool area and out of danger.

Fire damage
Change batteries in all your smoke detectors and ensure they're functioning correctly. Also clean your dryer's lint hose. Your lint trap doesn't catch it all. You should clean the hose once each year to prevent fire. (And as a bonus, it also increases dryer efficiency.)

Moisture damage
Check the water heater, and if you notice any corrosion or leaks, get it repaired right away. As well, seams and caulking on doors and windows can crack over time and allow moisture to enter your home. This can cause further damage to its structure. Reseal or recaulk where needed.

You also should clean out your gutters and clear away all the debris left by winter storms. The gutter and downspout system protects your home from water damage by directing water away from your roof and foundation. When it's clogged, it can't do its job.

Overgrown bushes can block windows and create shelter for thieves. Trim the landscaping so everything (and everyone) is out in the open. Also check outdoor lighting for burned-out bulbs; ensure your home is well lit to discourage any unwelcome visitors.

If you're worried about a homeowners insurance claim, this annual checkup can give you a safe home and peace of mind.

Are You Making a Mistake with Your Homeowners Insurance?
Buying a home is the biggest investment you'll ever make. With that kind of commitment, you owe it to yourself to protect it. Before you make a decision on which policy to buy, it pays to be informed. Get up to speed by requesting my free guide, "What You Need to Know Before Buying Homeowners Insurance."
Just reply to this email and I'll send it right out to you.

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Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
Happy National Pecan Month!
Makes 15 to 20 bars
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups pecan halves
1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 in. baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2 in. overhang on two sides.

In a mixer, cream butter and sugar for 2 minutes. At low speed, add flour and salt until combined. Press dough evenly into pan. Bake 30-35 minutes until slightly browned. Remove and cool. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, syrup, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in chocolate and pecans. Pour filling over crust. Bake 30-40 minutes until the center is set. Remove and sprinkle with salt. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
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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