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Terrible, No Good Holiday Disasters to Avoid
It's a time for celebration and remembrance; a time to be surrounded by loved ones, eat well, and rejoice. But holidays are also frequently the days when disasters strike.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that Thanksgiving is a peak day for home cooking fires, and US fire departments respond to over 800 home fires per year that are started by holiday decorations.

On top of these dangers, insurance companies report that burglary rates jump by 6 percent during the holidays.

To protect yourself, your family, and your home this holiday season, make sure you have the proper insurance policies in place to recover from these common disasters. Following are two of the top holiday incidents that homeowners insurance will cover.

Burning More than Dinner

Whether it was chestnuts roasting on an open fire or a stove-top disaster in the kitchen, your holiday fire is covered. NFPA reports that $12 million in property damage is caused by Christmas tree fires each year, and another $11 million in damage is caused by other holiday decorations. Insurance companies report the median cost for fireplace-related fires is over $10,000.

If you suffer from a household fire, it's crucial to have insurance to pay for repairs. Typical homeowners insurance coverage will pay for interior damage as well as trees, plants, and shrubs in your yard damaged by fire.

A Visit from the Grinch

If someone helps themselves to what's under the tree or stashed in the closet, your homeowners policy will cover the theft. Most policies provide coverage totaling up to 50 or 70 percent of the home coverage.

If you purchase a luxury item, keep in mind that there might be limits to your policy, so consult with your insurance agent to see if you need supplemental coverage.

I'm happy to review your policy with you and help you make any adjustments needed to ensure you and your family are fully protected this holiday season.

How to Shop Smart This Season with These 6 "Tiny" Shopping Habits
Whether you enjoy the adrenaline rush of last-minute holiday shopping or you like to get it done long before the season arrives, this year offers buyers more choices than ever. Try these six smart shopping habits to get the most out of your shopping.

1) Let technology keep you on track so you aren't stressing and overspending: For iOS users, relying on an app like GiftPlanner lets you set and balance your budget for each gift. It also helps you bookmark items that you're browsing online. Plus, you can even use it to remind you if you've wrapped the gift or not, by taking a photo and storing the info in the app.

Android users can turn to an app like Gift List Diary. You can set a budget for each person on your list. It also allows you to mark when you have purchased a gift and when you have wrapped it. Not only that, you have the ability to share your list with your contacts.

2) Take advantage of rewards programs when you shop online and in stores: Rakuten can get you cash-back rewards at many different online stores. Another option is Ibotta. When you provide proof of purchase for certain products, you earn cash-back rewards that you can use for holiday purchases.

3) Use coupon-tracking browser extensions to save online: Honey and RetailMeNot Genie (both free) automatically apply coupons that may be applicable to your purchase as you check out. You don't even have to search for the coupons!

4) If you're shopping for someone who doesn't want or need any more "stuff," go the charitable route: Pick a charity or cause that you know they would appreciate and make a charitable donation in their name.

5) Figure out your backup plans ahead of time: After making your list of gift recipients, pick three potential gifts for each person on your buying list. This way you won't go nuts when the gift you've decided on is maybe too expensive or can't be found.

6) Reduce the temptation: If you know you are susceptible to sales and buying more than you probably should, consider leaving your credit cards at home and just take your debit cards or cash when you go shopping for gifts.

Is It Time for a Digital Detox? Travelers Are Going Off-Screen
Today, almost 60 percent of the world's population is online, up from around 40 percent just five years ago, according to In developed countries such as the US and Canada, the figure rises to almost 95 percent. But some people are choosing to disconnect from technology and social media and go digital-free while on vacation.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of East Anglia, the University of Greenwich, and Auckland University of Technology investigated the effects of digital-free tourism on travelers' holiday experiences. Participants in the study agreed to forego access to cell phones, tablets, laptops, the internet, social media, and navigation tools while on vacation.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Travel Research, shows that there were initial symptoms of anxiety, frustration, and withdrawal among many of the travelers, but these gradually evolved into feelings of acceptance, enjoyment, and liberation. What's more, the travelers reported that they engaged more with their travel companions, with other travelers, and with locals during their off-screen travels.

Various factors affected how travelers perceived the digital-free travel experience. The researchers noted that the loss of ability to navigate with Google Maps caused anxiety and frustration more in urban destinations than in rural areas. Also, participants traveling with a companion or in a group tended to be more confident about disconnecting than were solo travelers.

If you want to have deeper connections while you're traveling and exploring new places and cultures, consider doing your own digital detox the next time you set off on an adventure.

5 Ways to Make Your Next Insurance Claim Easier
Even fender benders and minor home damage can be stressful. From police reports to home repairs, these are hassles no one wants to handle. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the claims portion of this process easier. Use the following tips to make your next claim smooth and simple.

Stay organized: Do you know where your insurance policy and insurance ID cards are stashed? Keep your proof of auto insurance in the glove compartment and store homeowners policy information where you can easily access it. Make it a habit to check these at the end of each month to ensure they're current.

Know your policies: Are you familiar with the details of your insurance policies? It's important to know what's covered and what's not, before an incident occurs.

Gather information: Claims go more smoothly when you can provide all the necessary information. For auto accidents, get the other driver's personal information, vehicle information, and insurance information. Keep records of all medical visits and tests for medical claims. Be sure to respond promptly if additional information is requested during your claim, as this will keep the process moving.

Provide documentation: Document damage with photo and/or video. Capture these images as soon as possible so you don't miss this step before repairs are made.

Prevent damage: Of course, the best scenario is a claims-free one. To avoid accidents and claims, use best practices for driving and home safety.

Still, even with the best precautions, accidents may happen. If you need to file a claim, do so as soon as possible. Don't hesitate to contact us immediately following an incident for assistance. Text me 24/7 and I'm bound to get back to you quickly (641)494-9494 Alex

Is Shopping Online for Insurance Really a Bargain?
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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Fall Vegetable Medley
Maybe it's time to bid farewell to that tired green bean casserole and put some pizzazz in the veggies at your Thanksgiving table.

This tasty, colorful vegetable medley can be made with any combination of fresh fall veggies. Cranberries add a tangy sweetness and nuts add extra crunch.
Serves 4
1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 lb. cauliflower florets
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Coat the vegetables with oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Then place the veggies on a large baking sheet and bake until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Agitate the veggies (shake the pan) halfway through baking.

Add the nuts and cranberries just before serving.
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.
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