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New Car Shopping? Five Tips for You

Yes, getting a new car is exciting, but you need to consider a lot of factors when you’re shopping from the term of your loan to what kind of safety technology is available, to how much insurance you’ll need. Getting a new car often means that you’re required to carry a fairly hefty insurance package to satisfy your loan company. Here are five tips on what to look for when you’re shopping.

  • Check out J.D. Powers quality ratings for your style, make, and model. The ratings for 2017 and some 2016 models are not yet out, but by searching for 2015 models, you’ll have plenty to choose from. LD Powers rated vehicles for overall quality, performance and design, and predicted reliability, but not for safety.
  • The NHTSA rates the safety of cars through three tough tests – rollover, t-bone, head on, and overall crash performance and lets you compare to other cars and notes the availability of safety technologies such as rearview video systems, electronic stability control, forward collision warning systems, and lane departure (or drift) warning systems.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducts its own crash tests, and these are slightly different from the NHTSA. The IIHS then issues ratings and also highlights their top safety picks and Top Safety Pick Plus
  • Weekends are the busiest time for car dealerships, and not the best time to make a deal. Shop early in the week, toward the end of the month, and make your offer late in the day when sales people want to clinch that one last deal. Give serious consideration to models from the previous or outgoing years, since these need to be cleared out to […]
By |2018-06-09T09:47:45+00:00June 22nd, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

Keeping Cool when It’s Florida Hot

Summer in Florida can be like Double Summer. It’s twice as hot and twice as humid, making you twice as cranky and the electric bill twice as much per month. However, you can keep your cool in summer, and stay healthy at the same time. It’s most important to avoid heat prostrastion or heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or other heat related syndromes such as heat syncope, heat rash, and heat cramps. Heat stroke is the most serious of the three, with unmistakable symptoms.

  • Confusion and disorientation, changes in normal behavior such as lethargy or belligerence.
  • Seizures, lack of co-ordination, and staggering.
  • Rapid heartbeat and respiration.
  • Complaints of headache or nausea followed by vomiting.
  • Lack of sweating after heavy sweating, combined with a fever of 105F or above.

Any combination of those symptoms above is a “Call 911!” type of emergency, and icebags should be placed at the neck, under the arms, and at the top of the thighs in order to help bring down the body temperature. This is heat stroke and is not something that you can treat at home, but something that requires an ER. Any fever over 105 is an instant cause for alarm, and can require medical intervention to prevent further damage to the body or even death. Tips for staying cool – when you can’t veg it in the AC all day – are as follows:

  • Time your exertion such as walking the dog, mowing the lawn, washing the car, or exercising outside to the hours of the early morning or late evening.
  • Wear light colored, loose clothing in breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics.
  • Water. Water. Stay hydrated with water and even Pedialyte. […]
By |2018-06-09T09:47:45+00:00June 16th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

Home of the Future?

If you asked someone a generation ago about the home of the future, the answer might have involved robots and taking weekends on the moon. We’re no closer to commercial moon flight, but we are getting a little closer to the efficient and low maintenance home of the future. It’s taken a while, it couldn’t have happened without the internet to connect us with our homes and the things we need them to do. Some things that are commonplace now were once novelties, and dismissed as frivolous toys – the internet was one, and so was television – yet they have do integrated with our lives that we can’t imagine life without them.

The thing is that there are a lot of challenges facing the world, from energy and water supplies, to sea level rise, to increasingly overcrowded urban environments that are too expensive for the people that need to live there. The home of the future needs to be reimagined in the context off affordable, sustainable, and livable. Some homes are going to the smaller side in an effort to pack maximum functionality into minimum space. Of course, to attract young professionals, you better offer some top-flight building perks, though. The tiny house movement is making headway as a way to lower the cost of homeownership and getting people who can’t afford a big house invested and rooted in their community, even if there have been zoning setbacks.

Hand in hand with the move for smaller and more flexible homes goes the increasing demand for green, sustainable, and recyclable construction. The worries about off-gassing from materials used in building, as well as paint, flooring and finishes […]

By |2018-06-09T09:47:45+00:00June 8th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

Hurricane Season is Here, Staying Connected During and After

A hurricane is coming, or a tornado touches down and just like that, you’re left in the dark for a few hours – or worse, a few days. You know what to do in order to stock up for supplies, and how to evacuate and find emergency shelters, but do you know how to get the most out of one of your most valuable safety tools? Your smartphone is vital in an emergency – but how are you to keep it charged? Those rooftop solar panels might have been blown halfway to Sanibel Island when you need them the most, so you need a better plan than hoping that your roof doesn’t get torn up.

Saving Your Battery

Let’s bust some myths with the help of The Wirecutter and the New York times with the definitive rundown on what doesn’t work. A lot of these “tips” are straight up myths that will make no difference in your battery life, or like a bad app will suck up even more of it. What definitively does work are external battery pack chargers – and some are even solar – and then move onto the big fixes like turning down screen brightness, limiting streaming video, and even using an ad-blocker.

Solar Equipment

Goal Zero makes portable solar and solar generators that run in size from backpack to the size that runs the fridge and CPAP machine. You can do everything from keeping a charge on your phone to keeping your fridge cold and your heat on in the event of power outages. There are lots of accessories available to work with the panels, from cords to battery packs and even speakers.

Radios

We’ve talked about the […]

By |2018-06-09T09:47:45+00:00June 2nd, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

The New Toy Too Hot for Your Insurance to Handle

It’s not an urban legend. You might’ve heard that hoverboards are catching fire, and you might even own one, but you need to be assured that it is true. At the beginning of April, the Orlando Sentinel reported a hover board catching fire in an Orange County apartment complex. Fortunately, this sprinklers did their jobs and though the three apartments had water damage, nobody was injured or hospitalized. In fact, there is even footage of one of the devices bursting into flame after only three days use – with the owner narrowly escaping injury. A Louisiana family lost their home to the same hazard after a 12-year-old boy’s hoverboard purchased from Amazon shot flames from both ends, and ended up burning down the family’s home. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is now investigating fires in 19 states that are tied to the devices, has declared them to be categorically unsafe, and airlines now refuse to transport the devices in carry-on and checked baggage. Not even the Underwriters Laboratory UL Mark should be taken as a sign of safety, as the laboratory has numerous instances in which the UL is counterfeited on two battery packs, hover boards, power supplies and adapters, and other parts.

Back at the end of 2015, hoverboards were possibly the hottest present that everyone wanted to put under their tree. While some companies have issued recalls and offered refunds, the manufacturers themselves are harder to get a hold of. These items were largely built in China by multiple manufacturers, distributed in the US by large numbers of limited liability companies – many of them no bigger than a shopping mall kiosk – while others […]

By |2018-06-09T09:47:46+00:00May 25th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

Cloudy Crystal Ball: 2016 Hurricane Season

The predictions are starting. The 2016 hurricane season is coming up fast, and already the predictions are all over the map. While we have not had anything more than a little rattling from passing hurricanes and tropical storms in the past ten years, it is worth it to remind you that Florida sits in a unique position on the hurricane highway. Whatever factors have served to keep hurricanes from our doorstep, we cannot rely on that protection forever.

From El Niño to El None-Yo

It is thought that a strong El Niño has a deterrent effect on hurricane formation in the South Atlantic, and this year’s El Niño was one of the strongest on record. This may have been the one of the reasons along with high Caribbean windshear that the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season was a no-show. Danny, Erica, Fred, Grace, and Ida petered out long before they became a threat to the mainland whether they were tropical storms or hurricanes. However, category four hurricane Joaquin made a strike on the Bahamas in October, before petering out in the North Atlantic.

A major factor in this year’s hurricane season is thought to be the “cold blob” in the North Atlantic. This is a blob of unusually cold water that is sitting roughly south of Greenland, and east of Newfoundland, extending almost all the way to the coast of Ireland. Since hurricanes rely on warm water to form and gather strength, currents pushing the cold water into the South Atlantic will limit the formation of the storms. However, with climate change and the possible disruption of ocean currents this may not happen.

This year we have a forecast of 12 named storms, five hurricanes […]

By |2018-06-09T09:47:46+00:00May 18th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

Fort Lauderdale Hits the Sweet Spot for Young Professionals

Hello, new graduates, and welcome to the rest of your life.

CareerBliss.com in conjunction with Forbes magazine released a study some time ago of the top happiest US cities for young professionals. After evaluating factors that affect the happiness of young professionals, Fort Lauderdale came in as the number two best city for young professionals. Factors such as work/life balance, work relationships and environment, resources, compensation, company culture and reputation were all taken into account. We believe that Fort Lauderdale is still a prime area where young professionals can not only get their footing in the first decade of their career, but where they will want to stay and settle for the rest of their lives.

Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area have a number of large employers, including Citrix, American Express, Templeton Worldwide, and number of fast growing, up and coming companies all hungry for new hires. We’re also right on the Space Coast with a growing aerospace and aviation industry, life sciences industry, and a soaring job market. With the young and diverse workforce and citizenry, you will be in good company as you begin your career. There are also a lot of great things about living on the Florida coast, including affordable real estate, parks and cultural activities, and some of the best happy hours anywhere in the United States.

A lot of people will want to try starting out their careers in places like Brooklyn, Silicon Valley, or other metro areas that are already experiencing unsustainable and uncontrolled growth. Very simply, when you begin an entry-level position immediately after graduation, you have more expenses than those already well embarked on their careers. […]

By |2018-06-09T09:47:46+00:00May 11th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

5 Great Florida Road Trip Ideas

Yes, it’s possible to play tourist inside your own state! If you have a little time this summer, you may want to check out parts of Florida that the thundering tourist crowd never seems to catch up on. While everybody is sweating in line at Disney World, you can be having a great time on the road discovering hidden Florida.

  • Discover hidden islands on the Gulf Coast. Mass tourism has passed these little havens by, and you’ll find that they are perfect for a long weekend of relaxation and reconnection. Anna Maria Island, Cabbage Key, Cedar Key, Gasparilla Island, Pass-A-Grille, and Pine Island are perfect getaways without the crowds for fishing, gallery hopping, local cuisine, biking, kayaking, and storybook inns.
  • Yes, we are still the flattest state in the union, but you can actually shoot the rapids at Big Shoals State Park, where the Suwanee River is about 60 feet above mean sea level with Class III white-water rapids for thrill-seeking kayakers and canoeists. There is also hiking, bicycling, fishing, and leashed dogs are allowed.
  • If you want to go down a lazy river, then turn your wheels towards Dunnellon and the Rainbow River. There is a dedicated area from which tubers can launch, as tubing is not allowed within the headsprings area or the day-use area of the park. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and boats from April 1 through September 30 – just make sure to get there early.
  • Coral Gables hosts the world’s biggest freshwater swimming pool, and it’s the only pool listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1924 out of the […]
By |2016-05-02T17:04:36+00:00May 4th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

Why That Cheap Auto Insurance Really Isn’t Cheap

You’ll see a lot of ads advertising cheap car insurance, but unfortunately I’m here to tell you that you do get what you pay for. The problem with cheap insurance is that it provides you with a false sense of security, you think you’re covered when really you are not. Very often a cheaper policy will be light on your bank account in terms of premiums, but let’s take a look at what a Florida minimum policy actually covers.

That’s it. That’s what it covers. It doesn’t pay to fix or replace your car, nor does it cover anything above the limits of your Personal Injury Protection or Property Damage Liability limits. There is no Bodily Injury Liability coverage should serious injury, permanent disability, or death should you be because of an accident. In other words, for damages over and above what is provided by “cheap auto insurance” you could find yourself the target of a lawsuit to cover the difference.

Remember, cheap auto insurance often has a higher deductible, and that it costs a lot of money to repair or replace a […]

By |2018-06-09T09:47:46+00:00April 27th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

The Crystal Ball: Flood Insurance Forecast 2017

The National Flood Insurance Program expires in 2017, but unlike previous years Washington looks as if they’re ready to actually do something! The program was last reauthorized in 2012 after a series of lapses and extensions that left homeowners on the fence. The program is currently $24 billion in debt according to PropertyCasualty 360.com, and private sector insurance companies are coming around to the idea that offering private flood insurance policies could be a strong sector for their balance sheets.

Those who are currently cheerleading the privatization of flood insurance might not remember that insurance companies bailed on flood insurance in droves after the great 1993 floods in the Midwest, as well as 1992’s hurricane Andrew, and 1989’s hurricane Hugo. To those homeowners who remember why Citizens Insurance was created in the first place, private insurance can at best be seen as a fair weather friend, or as an industry willing to privatize the profits and socialize the losses by cherry picking policy pool for those least at risk.

Supporters include the insurance industry, state insurance commissioners, and other special interest groups that seem to spring up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Mortgage lenders however are uncertain that private policies will satisfy regulations that for the larger part will only accept NFIP policies before issuing a mortgage. The reason for this is that they are uncertain that the coverage offered by private insurers meets with the requirements of the federally run program.

Lenders stand to take a huge loss should these policies prove inferior, or the private insurance companies lack the capitalization to payout a large number of claims all at once – such as those that might occur immediately after a hurricane. Despite […]

By |2018-06-09T09:47:46+00:00April 20th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments