Cut-Rate Insurance Can Actually Cost You More
If you’re like the rest of us, you frequently receive solicitations and ads from cut-rate insurance companies promising to save you money on your auto or homeowners insurance. And, like most of us, you are being very careful with your money and looking at all your expenses in the hopes of cutting costs. However, buying cut-rate insurance may cost you much more in the long run.
Insurance is your first line of defense against life’s calamities. After a loss, you want to be able to count on a good insurance company to help you through all the problems that arise. For example, a full-service insurance company with a good reputation can:
- Provide prompt and courteous service year-round after a loss.
- Provide knowledgeable adjusters who can assist you in making important post-loss decisions.
- Locate a top-rated repair shop near your job or home to repair your damaged car.
- Promptly and conveniently provide a replacement vehicle while your car is in the shop if you purchased rental coverage.
- Pay for an alternative living space that is as similar as possible to your home if you are unable to occupy it after a loss.
- Provide a strong defense with excellent legal counsel if you are sued after a loss.
- Ensure prompt board-up services after a loss.
- Help you locate a trustworthy contractor if your home or roof is damaged.
Cut-rate insurance carriers cost less because they generally provide fewer services.
The decision to purchase insurance should go beyond price. Protection for your home and family after a loss is priceless.
Do your research and talk to people who have purchased low-cost insurance to find out if they are pleased with the claims service they have received. Chances are, they’re finding the cost of their “low-cost” insurance is far too high.
Eat Dirt: It’s Not Evil Anymore
In North America, we obsess about hand sanitizer and scrub our fruits and vegetables until every vestige of mud in an effort to protect ourselves from bacteria we believe will make us ill. Well, as it turns out, our preoccupation with cleanliness may actually be making us sick.
A five-year study called the Human Microbiome Project found that 100 trillion good bacteria live in our bodies, bacteria that help keep us healthy.
The project, involving 200 scientists and 80 institutions, also discovered that as many as 1,000 bacterial strains exist in each person, that everyone’s microbiome (their collection of bacteria) is unique, and that disease-causing bacteria found in a human’s microbiome not only don’t cause illness, but they also co-exist peacefully. In short, bacteria isn’t evil.
Jeff D. Leach, founder of the Human Food Project, wrote in the New York Times: “Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us.”
So how can we refamiliarize ourselves with those microorganisms? According to Leach, the answer lies in reintroducing organisms found in plain old mud.
While you may not want to eat spoonfuls of mud, you could consider trading artificially shiny grocery store produce for veggies and fruit from the local farmer’s market. And that dirt clinging to them? It’s good for you, so don’t be too quick to scrub it all off.
The Debate Continues: Pros and Cons of Urban Intensification
The dream of most couples used to be 2.5 kids and a house in the suburbs surrounded by a white picket fence. Now, according to municipal planners, families should scratch out “suburbs” and insert “smart growth urban communities” instead.
Arising from a shift toward urban intensification, these communities include high-density housing where everything you need is available at your fingertips. No more gas-consuming commutes. Urban intensification offers amenities and promotes walking, biking and transit-taking.
Furthering their claim, supporters of smart growth communities note that the shift not only accommodates fast-paced population growth but also protects the environment in several ways.
However, critics are wary of the move. For them, “high density” living is a colorful way to describe cramped housing. They’re expressing concerns over the depletion of local resources and a diminished quality of life.
They also note that the higher cost of real estate, caused by shortages of housing and buildable land, may have an opposite of what is intended: It may send people (and jobs) to the suburbs for more affordable housing.
But aren’t communities that encourage walking and biking more “healthy”? The jury’s still out, but studies comparing activity levels of kids in the ‘burbs and city kids indicate that city kids play more outdoors. However, this isn’t yet linked to their health status.
The debate continues. Whether the new dream becomes the condo in the sky will be determined, ultimately, by where people want to live. As always, we’ll vote with our feet.
Know How to Protect Your Bicycle From Thieves All Year Long
Bicycles are becoming the commuting vehicle of choice, even in the winter months and certainly in milder climes. But no matter what the season, your bike is always vulnerable to theft.
Bicycles can range in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Because they are easily sold on the streets for one-tenth of their value, they’re a hot commodity. And no spot is safe; thefts occur from houses, garages and office buildings. Here are some tips to help keep your bike secure:
Your homeowner’s coverage usually covers theft of a bike, but sometimes your deductible is more than the cost of the bike. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth a claim.
- When you purchase a bike, immediately record the serial number. Consider etching your phone number on the bike.
- Register your bicycle with the National Bike Registry. Registration costs $10 for 10 years and ensures you will have a better chance of recovering your bike if it’s stolen.
- Always lock your bike, even if it’s stored on your balcony. Thieves can easily climb up and lower the bike to the street. Reports have been made of thefts from balconies as high as four floors up.
- Police recommend you use two locks: a U-lock and a cable lock. A thief needs different tools to attack each lock.
Place your lock off the ground with the keyway facing toward the ground to make it harder to remove, and check to make sure it’s locked securely