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Animal Invasion: Are you covered?
Your dog ate your couch. Birds destroyed your gutter. A family of racoons overran your garage.

Will your homeowners insurance cover these animal invasions?

Yes and no. Here's the scoop:

Infestation: If your home suffers damage at the hands (or legs) of insects, rodents, or vermin, the cost probably won't be covered by your homeowners insurance. Whatever damage these unwanted guests cause, including nesting and infestation, is not usually covered. However, this varies by policy, so be sure to check with your insurance agent to confirm.

Destruction: If your personal property is destroyed by an animal, this usually does not fall under your homeowners policy coverage. If the animal damages the property itself, this is probably covered. So, if a bear breaks into your garage and mauls your tools, you might be on your own to replace your saw, but the damage Mr. Grizzly caused to the garage door should be covered.

Liability: Coverage for damages caused by pets varies based on where the damage occurs. If your cute kitten ruins your new loveseat, you'll have to hold Fluffy responsible. Your insurance company probably won't pay for that. But if you bring Fido to your friends' house and he eats their loveseat, the liability portion of your policy will kick in and cover this damage.

Do you have concerns about potential animal-related damages? Let us help you review your policies and determine what specific coverage is best for you and available in your area.

Memory Brain Training: From Sieve to Steel Trap
Some instances are easy to laugh off. Forgetting an appointment or misplacing one's keys can be filed under "being forgetful." But a leaky memory isn't funny when those misplaced dates and items are of great importance, or when the forgetfulness becomes chronic.

Fortunately, there's good news for sufferers of poor memory: it can get better. With the right techniques, it's possible to train your brain and improve your memory. Try these tips:

Use imagery: Memory athletes (yes, it's a thing) use this trick to make words stick. Next time you're trying to remember an important date or someone's name, picture it as an over-the-top image. For example, imagine "April 20" exploding out of a confetti cannon.

Resist the urge to Google: Anything we could ever want to know is just a couple of taps away. But constantly using a search engine to remember facts and figures that we've forgotten is making our brains lazy. Next time you're stuck, wait it out and work your brain to remember.

Create a memory palace: A memory palace is a real physical location or route that is familiar to you, where you can "store" words and dates to remember later. For example, if your memory palace is your jogging route and you want to remember your credit card numbers, you might imagine your Visa number scrawled on the bench you stretch on and your Mastercard number posted on the billboard you pass by on your run.

Practice: As with physical exercise, consistency is key. Practice recalling directions, phone numbers, and important dates in the shower or during your commute.

How to Handle a Love-Hate Relationship with the Gym
A trip to the fitness center can be a daunting experience. All those machines designed to burn calories and tone muscles, and all those sleek, toned, hard bodies, can be quite intimidating. For newbies, it's hard to know where or how to begin. Here are some tips to help you get started at the gym.

Go with a buddy: A friend can turn a trip to the gym into a social experience and help ease the jitters. Hit the gym together when it is less crowded. When it's not as busy, people won't be waiting in line for your machine and you won't feel like all eyes are on you.

Ask for help: An experienced trainer or coach can familiarize you with the equipment, offer encouragement, and instruct you on proper technique. A professional personal trainer can work with you to develop an individual program that addresses your fitness goals.

Accessorize appropriately: Buy a good, sturdy pair of athletic shoes and consider splurging on some workout outfits. Use earbuds to block out ambient noise and provide music that you enjoy listening to while you exercise.

Join a class: There are many options to choose from: Zumba, barre, yoga, CrossFit, tai chi, Pilates, tone 'n sculpt, boot camp, and more. You're sure to find something that suits your style and fitness level. Classes are motivational and a great way to make friends.

Set goals and build on them incrementally. Allow yourself to bask in the progress you make each time you go to the gym.

Modern Homes Can Outsmart Disaster
The internet of things has taken home protection to the next level, empowering homeowners with new tools to keep their homes and loved ones safe. While homeowners might not be able to prevent every disaster, these innovative smart home features can reduce their risk.

Fire Alerts

Traditional smoke detectors are helpful for alerting residents to a fire. This is great if someone is home. What happens when no one is around to hear the alarm?

With smart fire detectors, the homeowner can receive an alert via a Wi-Fi-connected device anywhere in the world. This can decrease emergency response time, potentially reducing damage to the home.

Water Alerts

One of the most common homeowners insurance claims is water damage. Burst pipes and leaky appliances can cause extensive damage to a home. Smart leak-detection sensors can mitigate or even prevent these calamities. The sensor will alert homeowners immediately when a leak is detected, allowing them to take action to stop the water invasion.

Burglar Alerts

Smart technology has enhanced security measures on many fronts. Homeowners can keep tabs on their property by monitoring video surveillance from anywhere, deter thieves with timed lighting, and use smart door locks to maintain tighter security of their entryways.

Plus, affordable, wireless technology makes installing security systems easier than ever before.

Smart Devices

Technology is becoming so prevalent that there are few items that aren't available with smart features these days.

Appliances offer improved safety and efficiency. Garage doors are better at detecting motion. High-tech irrigation systems can prevent overwatering and flooding. From attic to basement, homeowners can access a host of smart features to protect their homes and prevent insurance claims.

Don't hesitate to reach out so you can learn more about how you can prevent disaster in your home. Be sure to ask about any discounts you may be eligible for if your home is equipped with smart technology.

5 maintenance tasks you shouldn't forget

Even if you never experience a major mishap, homeownership can be expensive. That’s why it’s so important to stop trouble before it starts. 

What’s the best way to do this? Take care of basic maintenance tasks throughout the year.

When completed on a regular schedule, these five actions can help prevent you from wasting your hard-earned money on unnecessary costs and repairs:

1. Install insulation. Neglecting your insulation is like always leaving a window open. Reinforce the draftiest areas to recoup hundreds in annual heating and cooling costs. Focus on your attic and crawl spaces as well as windows and doors.

2. Check your roof and gutters. You don’t have to bust out the ladder to monitor your home from the top down. Just grab a pair of binoculars to keep an eye out for potential problems. Twice a year though, you should probably trim branches that might be getting too close for comfort and clean your gutters. 

3. Change filters. 

Not only do dirty filters decrease the efficiency of your HVAC system, but they also saturate the air with allergens, dust and other contaminants. Set a reminder to change your filters with each season. 

4. Clean refrigerator coils. Giving your fridge coils a good dusting can save you big bucks over the course of the year. Add this task to your spring and fall cleaning list for best results. 

5. Don’t neglect your dryer. So simple, yet so overlooked. Clothes dryers are the second-highest energy users in your home. Help your machine operate at peak performance by keeping the filter and vent clear of lint and debris. 

Major home repairs may not be altogether avoidable, but they are often preventable. Use this list to stay on task and save money. 

Have questions about your coverage? Reach out anytime.


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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Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 6
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small container of sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
4 cups shredded chicken
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 bay leaf
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 420 degrees.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven and sauté onion, carrots, and celery until softened. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms start to soften. Add flour and stir to coat everything, then gradually add chicken stock while scraping the bottom. Add chicken and herbs. Season to taste. Simmer until thickened.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add butter and milk. Stir to combine. Drop biscuits by rounded tablespoons on top of the pot pie. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
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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