Your Dog May be Smarter Than You Are, and Insuring Cars at Replacement Cost Value

Keep Your New Teen Driver Safe With These Apps

While your teenager is dreaming of the open road; you’re just plain scared. But when D(rive) day arrives, nothing is more important than keeping your teen safe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the top cause of all teen deaths is vehicle crashes: Teens 16 to 19 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than someone 20 or older. These days, one of the main causes of accidents is distracted driving, thanks to cell phones and other devices. According to online magazine Laptop, research shows that “texters-and-drivers” are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. And teens are particularly vulnerable to the lure of the smartphone.

Thank goodness you can keep your teen safe and paying attention while driving. These apps make it easy…and fun. BTW, don’t miss the Gas Buddy app, for forgetful teens (and their parents) who are always running out of gas.

Drive Scribe

While in motion, this app stops texts, calls, Internet use and keeps track of vehicle speed. To delight your teen, safe driving will earn him or her points, which can be used to buy gift cards. Pro

This clever app reads text and emails out loud so your teen can keep both hands on the wheel. An option is available to handle replies, which are sent automatically while driving. The Pro feature that is especially popular with teen drivers is its ability to read text message shorthand. LOL.

Your Dog May be Smarter Than You Are

After watching yet another pet trick on YouTube, you might think the dog population is divided into dumb dogs (yours) and smart dogs (theirs); but according to Brian Hare, associate anthropology professor and founder of the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University, you’d be wrong. Hare believes all dogs are geniuses in their own way.

“People can often underestimate the intelligence of their best friend,” Hare told Scientific American earlier this year. He says it’s all about figuring out what your dog does well, because “different dogs use different strategies to solve problems.”

One impressive canine skill is the ability to follow human gestures. For example, if you point in the direction of a toy, your dog can follow your point.

But perhaps a dog’s most intelligent feature is its capacity for cross-species bonding and empathy. Like most humans, dogs who have bonded well with their owners will find that owner’s yawn just as contagious as humans will.

Studies also have shown that, like their owners (the “petters”), dogs (the “pettees”) experience a boost in a “love” hormone during petting – an experience obviously enjoyed by both petters and pettees.

Can You Ignore Those Best Before Dates?

A simple misconception is responsible for millions of dollars of wasted food in households across North America.

At issue are those mysterious “best before” dates. It seems almost everyone is throwing out edible food once it reaches its best before date, assuming it’s no longer safe to consume.

While it is an environmental concern – experts are anxious to turn this around with consumer education – it’s also a question of dollars and cents. Throwing away good food is costing the average family hundreds of dollars a year.

In fact, there’s wiggle room here: Most best before dates indicate that food may lose some flavor, freshness or nutritional value after that date. Not that it should be thrown out.

The answer: Try a sniff test. Chances are you’ll taste the savings.

Insuring at Replacement Cost Value = Peace of Mind

Many insurance experts recommend insuring your home at replacement cost value rather than actual cash value. And many home owners (and renters) believe it also makes sense to insure their contents at replacement cost value; your personal property is worth it, and so is your peace of mind.

To understand both forms of coverage, let’s look at their differences:

Actual Cash Value (ACV)

When you insure your home and personal belongings at ACV, your coverage reflects the current fair market value. If your home is currently valued at $300,000, then that is the amount you’d receive in a total loss claim. But, while the low premiums for ACV are attractive, rebuilding a home typically costs more than fair market value. You may be hit with penalties for being underinsured. Note that insuring your home for less than 80 percent of its value will reduce your claim benefits because your coverage is based on a depreciated market value.

Replacement Cost Value (RCV)

To avoid unexpected penalties and out-of-pocket expenses, insure your home for 100 percent of its replacement value. The premium will be more expensive, but if your home is totally or partially damaged, you’ll have peace of mind and, as important, an intact savings account as compensation.

Consider RCV for your personal belongings as well. Insurance companies will require that you actually replace the damaged items, but after your deductible, you’ll receive the full replacement value. If you have expensive personal property, consider scheduling it separately. Experts recommend you choose coverage at 200 percent of the total value of your personal property.

To determine RCV of your home, consult your insurance company or consider conducting a professional appraisal. To make sure you’re covered no matter what, opt for Extended RCV coverage. There are requirements to meet, but when it comes to everything you own, it’s always better to safe than sorry.