Wednesday, 30 January 2013

More driving distractions we're all guilty of

In our last post, we looked at a few of the common distractions that compromise our ability to drive safely. Today, we'll examine a few more:

  • Grooming: For most of us, it's quite the feat when we find ourselves hitting our morning commute having groomed ourselves and eaten breakfast. However, rushed mornings typically mean that we do these things hurriedly, and spend a good part of the rest of the morning thinking about them, or trying to complete them. That bit of orange stuck between your teeth? Of course it's annoying...but resist the urge to seek it out in the reflection in your visor's vanity mirror; your eyes need to be on the road. Same goes for putting on makeup. Find another time and place to squeeze those things in. 
  • Playing around with car controls: your comfort when driving is definitely a priority. After all, comfortable drivers tend to be safer drivers. Does this mean that you shouldn't make adjustments to temperature and things of the like when you are on the road? No, but it does mean that you need to review how to do this safely. Your eyes should never be off of the road. This means that you'll need to do some homework: practice using the controls when you're not driving to the point where you know where everything is without looking. Also, avoid taking your had off the wheel when you are moving. Try and wait until you are stopped to do this.

  • Driving to let off steam: no matter how much you enjoy driving, it's important to recognize that cars are vehicles of transportation, not therapy. Getting onto the road with a deliberate intention to mull and brood is unwise: you know your mental focus is compromised! You'd be much better off working out your frustration through a good long walk. It's safer, and more effective (exercise improves mood and clarity of thinking significantly).

  • Fumbling with directions: There was a time when this meant fidgeting with maps, and perusing pieces of paper with directions scribbled onto them (for some, this may still be the case)...but don't make the assumption that you are immune to this distraction simply because you have a gps. How often have we started our journeys without programming our device, figuring we can simply select our destination from our list of saved addresses only to realize that the gps is failing to connect with a satellite, leaving us distractedly glancing at and fidgeting with it to try to get the connection going? Or how many times has the gps brought us to an incorrect address only to have us attempt to re-enter coordinates while we're still driving? This distraction can be just as—if not more—dangerous as playing around with controls. To avoid this, be sure your route has been calculated before you start driving. If you find that you are lost, keep driving in the direction you are going until you find a safe place to stop. Pull your vehicle over, enter your new address, and be sure the route is calculated before taking off.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Driving distractions we're all guilty of

No matter how experienced you are at driving, we've all overestimated our ability to multi-task while on the road. Here are some of the most common lures that we fall prey to:

  • Conversations and idle chatter: While you don't necessarily need to take a vow of silence every time you get into your car to drive, there does come a point—for all drivers—where conversations can become distracting. The reason for this is that when you become engrossed in the conversation, without realizing it, you involve your body: rolling your eyes, shrugging, even giving a playful smack. That momentary loss of focus can actually have huge consequences. 

  • Using your phone: While it is illegal across all of Canada now to use a handheld cell phone for talking or texting, they are still among the foremost of distractions for today's drivers. For one, many simply disregard the law, and “sneak” in a chat here, a text message there, under the notion that if they haven't been caught, all is well. But an even subtler way that these devices are continuing to make hazards of themselves is through the mistaken belief that using a handset is completely safe. As we've just discussed, conversation itself is a distraction. 

  • Tuning: Certainly, having the music you enjoy playing in the background can make a long ride more enjoyable...and assuming you're not trying to dance along, the music itself shouldn't be a distraction. However, adjusting the volume, changing the CD, or navigating to the music you want on your mp3 player are all examples of behaviours that take both your mental and physical focus off of the road. Do a little bit of planning ahead, and get your music going the way you want it before you start driving.

  • Eating: Understandably, time is tight for many of us. Juggling work, home life, and social commitments only leaves us with so much time for rest and nourishment. That said, if you're going to squeeze in an impromptu meal or snack somewhere in your day, don't make it on your drive. Needless to say, the act of trying to juggle a burger, pop, and a steering wheel is one that doesn't bode well. This is not to say that you shouldn't grab something to eat in between destinations: take your drive thru spoils to a parking spot closeby, give yourself a few minutes to eat undistractedly, and then continue your journey.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Common car seat errors

While you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who wasn't aware of the vitality (and legal necessity) of car seats for infants and children, there are several details pertaining to their proper use that many of us are not so clear on. Let's take a look at those areas around which there is some confusion.

Is it okay to buy a car seat second hand?
Generally, no—certainly not from somebody you do not know. The reason for this is that car seats are no longer considered to be in good working order once they have been involved in a collision. While it may seem cynical to doubt the honesty of a potential seller who tells you the seat they are selling has never seen an accident, you can never be too sure. With something this serious, you are better off not hazarding the risk.

On a related note, can I reuse my car seat between my children?
Since you know beyond all doubts whether or not a car seat in your ownership has been involved in a collision, this is safe to do. However, bear in mind that car seats do expire. Check the date before you install it to ensure that it is still effective.

Can my child's clothing really impact car seat safety?
Absolutely. Bulkier clothing such as winter jackets can really interfere with your ability to get a proper fit when securing your child in their seat. For this reason, you should remove such large articles before adjusting your child's car seat.

Does it matter where the front clip rests?
Yes. The reason it is called a chest clip is because it is meant to sit at chest level. If you are uncertain about whether or not you have the clip in the right location, do your best to keep it in line with your child's underarms.

How do I know how tightly to fasten the car seat to the car?
As a general rule, the tighter, the better. At most, you should be able to nudge your car seat from side to side by a maximum of two centimetres.

Is it okay to wash my car seat?
As with any piece of gear that sees daily use by a child or infant, dirt and mess will accumulate on a car seat, and certainly for health and hygiene purposes, you want to address that. However, your best bet in doing this is to wipe it with a damp cloth. Avoid immersing it in water as this can cause it permanent damage.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Protecting family members with special needs in fires

There are many aspects to emergency planning that are frequently discussed, but one of the less considered of these aspects is the well-being and safety of those with special needs in times of disaster. Persons with disabilities are likely to be less able to respond quickly and effectively during a fire. For this reason, it is crucial that you make consideration of this well in advance.
Here are some steps you can take in that direction:

  1. Check all of your smoke alarms to ensure that they work. Additionally, if you live in a multi-level home, you should make sure that alarms are installed on all levels. Each bedroom should have its own smoke alarm, and hallways should be equipped with alarms as well.

  2. Link your smoke alarms to one another. This way, when one sounds, they will all sound. (And make sure not to burn the pot roast, unless you have a particular fondness for the cacophony that will ensue.)

  3. Be sure to have both kinds of smoke alarms distributed throughout your home: photoelectric and ionization. The former is more sensitive when it comes to detecting smokey fires, whereas the latter is better at detecting flames. By having both kinds, you're sure to have your bases covered.

  4. Make sure your family is familiar with the sound of the smoke alarm so that they can identify it when the time comes.

  5. Have a fire emergency plan for getting out of the house as quickly and safely as possible. Be sure to build in the necessary considerations for those with special needs.

  6. Run drills of this plan at least every six months.

  7. Try to find, or make adaptations for, at least two means of escape for each room of your home.

  8. Let your neighbours know of the special needs your family member may have so that when they see your household in distress, they are able to respond with knowledge of the circumstances.

  9. Let your fire department know that you have a family member with special needs. Most fire departments collect this information so that they can better prepare to help families to whom this applies.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Road safety during changing weather conditions

One of the joys of living so close to the Rockies is our exposure to Chinooks—those warm winds that give us what would otherwise be unusually high temperatures for winter. Chinooks may make us the envy of other snow-shovelling settlements throughout our nation, as it is often the case that they melt the snow away before accumulation gets out of hand. That said, because of the cyclical nature of our weather patterns, we know that we should come to expect that periods of warm are followed by periods of cold shortly thereafter, which in turn means that snowmelt which has not yet evaporated away will quickly turn to ice (and conversely, that solid accumulations of precipitation such as snow and ice will once again turn to slush). What this means for us as drivers is that we need to be alert and adaptable to quickly changing conditions. We cannot take for granted one type of winter condition, and be prepared for that only.

Pre-season preparations:
  • try to prepare for winter driving long before winter arrives. Certainly, this year's winter has been exceptional in how early it arrived, but apart from exceptional years, do your best to anticipate the onset of winter, and to offset that with advanced preparations. These preparations should involve checking your defroster, your brakes, ensuring your heater and thermostat work, and that your antifreeze levels are accurate.
  • Be sure to don your snow tires. Also, ensure that your tires are in good shape, and that the treads are not worn on them.
  • Check that all your lights are in working order. Winter is a season in which headlights and emergency flashers tend to see more use than in other seasons.
  • To avoid frozen wiper fluid, opt for a winter appropriate fluid that has antifreeze in it. Test your windshield washer to make sure the nozzles are not blocked.
  • Consider using winter blades on your windshield wipers to help you clear snow and ice that accumulate on your car.
  • Ensure that you keep a scraper in your car with you always.

When driving in ice, snow, and slush:
  • Allow yourself plenty of extra time for travel.
  • Ensure that your lights are on. Making yourself visible is critical.
  • Plan ahead by checking your local radio station for news about collisions, advisories, and closures. (To help others with safety, be sure to call in with such information yourself when you are among the first to learn of it).
  • If your route is one that becomes particularly hazardous during freezing or melting conditions (for example, bridges are notorious for icing, and steep winding roads that lose their traction owing to ice or slush can be disastrous) try to plan an alternate route.
  • Be sure that those who know you (friends, family, coworkers) know what to expect of your routine, as well as trips you make outside of this routine. This way, if your ability to drive is compromised, people will know where to find you.
  • Use gradual, rather than sudden tactics both for gaining speed and slowing down.
  • If you drive a larger vehicle, remember that you will need more time to come to a safe stop. Apply this knowledge to trucks with whom you share the road as well: give them plenty of space for breaking and changing lanes.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Basic home security measures you should be taking

As with many aspects of life in North America, home invasion and burglary, though gravely serious and often traumatizing for those who experience them, are bound to affect an unfortunate few. Though most of us never suspect that we might one day become victims ourselves, in many cases it is simply a matter of luck and timing as to who will be affected and when. Thus, while burglary will never have the opportunity to pose real problems for the vast majority of us, others, inevitably, will not be so lucky.
                Though the risk of home invasion and burglary can never be eliminated entirely, various measures can nevertheless be taken to ensure that this risk is made to be as minimal as possible. Beyond simply protecting your home, family and personal possessions against the threat of burglary, however, making use of these strategies will also ensure that your home insurance premiums are kept as low as possible, and that any changes to these premiums will be minimized in the event that any break-ins do occur.

1.       Invest in a good home alarm system. This is perhaps the most important first step to take in protecting your home against break-ins, with respect to both safety and reducing your insurance premiums. When it comes to actually purchasing a system, don’t be afraid to shop around; plenty of different types are available, and any prior research into what’s out there will almost certainly help you to make a better-informed decision. You should also make sure that you have an intimate understanding of how your desired system functions; does it cover the windows of the house as well, or just the doors? Will it use infrared room sensors and, if so, how easy or difficult is it to trip them? If and when you do have an alarm system installed, make sure that anyone else living or staying at the house also understands how it works and what to do in the event that it is triggered or needs to be armed or disarmed. Beyond this, any codes used to disarm the system should be given out only to people whom you trust to be responsible and discreet with them at all times.
2.       Install deadbolts on any outer doors at ground level. Beyond simply being an inexpensive and effective way to protect any potential entrance points to your home while you are away, installing deadbolts can also yield reductions in home insurance premiums, making them an extremely sensible addition to the burglary protection arsenal. As with the codes to any alarm system that you might install (see above), keys to unlock the deadbolts should be distributed sparingly, and only to those in whom you confidently trust.
3.       For further protection, consider installing motion-triggered outer lights and reinforced glass window panes. Additional protection certainly can’t hurt, and in the event that a burglar does target your home while you are away, a motion-triggered floodlight that illuminates the front yard or unexpectedly sturdy window at the back of the house could mean the difference between an attempted break-in and a successful one. In addition, many of these systems are relatively inexpensive, increasing the overall benefits of implementing such strategies even further.
4.       You've got to think like a thief to catch a thief. Where conventional methods of home protection might fail, insights as to why a home invader might target your house could help you to eliminate these factors from the equation, ensuring even stronger protection and lessening the chances of a break-in. When you go on a trip or leave your house for a number of days, for instance, have a family friend pick up any mail or newspapers that might accumulate and act as a tip-off to burglars. You might also want to arrange to leave a light on in the house while you are away (low-energy, high-efficiency light bulbs suit this purpose perfectly) or have a friend park their car in the driveway to give the impression that somebody is home. Alternatively, you might want to have a trusted friend or family member house-sit during your absence, which would likely allow for even greater security and peace of mind.       

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Flu season isn't quite over yet: be sure to protect yourself

With recent news headlines that convey the prevalence of influenza in our community right now, it stands to reason that you may be seeing ways to protect yourself against this virus. While not all strains are deadly, most strains are aggressive enough to be debilitating in a way that common colds simply aren't. Here's what you need to know about the flu:

How can I tell apart a bad cold from a flu?
With a cold, the most common symptoms are a congested or runny nose, sore throat and sneezing. Coughs are hacking and usually productive. Symptoms like fevers, aches, and chills are less common with colds. If they are present, they are mild. With the flu however, there is always a fever, as well as aches and chills. Extreme fatigue is likely to occur as well. The onset of symptoms can take place quite suddenly, spanning three to six hours. Coughs are dry and unproductive, and sore throats are uncommon. That said, you may have a sore throat, or other additional symptoms to those listed as common flu symptoms, if you have developed a secondary illness on top of the flu. This is actually quite common, as the immune system is already compromised. So, for example, it is often the case that someone who has a particularly bad flu will also have something like bronchitis on top of that.

How is the flu transmitted?
The flu is highly contagious. An adult with the flu is infections from one day before their symptoms show, up to seven days after they appear to be sick. Children have an even longer period of contagion. Flu symptoms will usually manifest themselves between one and four days after infection takes place. Unfortunately, this means that people can infect others before they even know that they are sick. In rare cases, a person can be infected with the virus and never have manifest symptoms. Such a person may also spread the infection.
The flu is transmitted through droplets. What this means is that when people cough, talk, or sneeze, they produce very tiny droplets that carry the virus in them. These droplets can travel as far as six feet, which means you don't need to be very close to a person in order to catch their flu. These droplets find their ways into mouths and noses of those in the same room, and are sometimes inhaled into their lungs. Additionally, touching common surfaces is another way to transmit the virus.

What can I do?
Currently, the best way to protect against the most virulent strains of influenza is to go for a flu shot. This will not give you protection against every strain of flu that you might possibly catch in a given season, but they are formulated to protect against the most dangerous strains of the season so that you do not develop life threatening illness as a result of the flu.
In addition to vaccination, frequent hand washing is one of the most important practices in preventing illness. Additionally, try to avoid areas where you know infected persons will be. If you yourself are sick, protect others by staying home. To prevent contagion in a single household, washing dinnerware in a dishwasher will be sufficient to kill germs.
If you do become infected, you should see your doctor. Your doctor may be able to prescribe anti viral medications (which are different from antibiotics) and those could speed up your recovery significantly. Seeing your doctor is also important in order to determine that you do not have a secondary infection. You could require antibiotics if that is the case.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Dealing with missed, delayed, and canceled flights

One of the many types of protection that travel insurance offers individuals is the ability to be at ease when flights are not taken as they were originally scheduled. Missed, canceled, and delayed flights can be a result of either circumstances in your own life that interfere with your travel plans, or glitches in an airline's operations. At any rate, in addition to making sure that you have travel insurance to protect you in these types of situations, here are a few more tips that will help you cope.

In the case of missing a flight, the most common, and the easiest course of action is to simply take the next available flight. In fact, several airlines now automatically confirm you as a passenger on another flight that is scheduled for departure shortly after your original flight. However, if this automatic correction is not the case for you, it should be relatively easy to get onto another flight anyway. If you booked through an airline website, speak with an agent of that airline directly. If you booked through a travel agency or other provider, then that is who you should speak to in order to arrange for another flight. If you find yourself having missed a flight and hoping to catch the next one during a busy time or season, be prepared for the possibility that there will be several other travelers like yourself waiting to be accommodated on upcoming flights. This means that the airline will likely create a standby list, in priority order (roughly a first come first served basis). If your name is on a standby list, the procedure will be such that passengers originally booked on that flight will board first. If there are any available seats remaining, the airline will begin taking people from the standby list and placing them on this flight. If, however, they are unable to accommodate all of the standby passengers, the remaining passengers will be moved (in the same order) to the standby list of the next flight.

If delays are mounting beyond your control, and it looks as though you will be stranded for an indefinite period of time, canceling or postponing your trip may be your most preferable option. Of course, this is only assuming that you have the flexibility to do so—both in terms of time and money. Having adequate travel insurance will at least give you that flexibility financially. If you decide to cancel or postpone your trip, speaking with an agent (from either the airline, or the agency, depending on who you booked through) as soon as you can. This will help prevent you from losing your ticket altogether, and will give you a sense of when you can reuse it. The general rule for most airlines is that tickets can be reused within a year of the original date. This is the course of action to follow if you cancel your flight be choice. If, however, your flight has been canceled by the airline itself, you can expect a full refund.

When flights are delayed for extended periods, travelers often find themselves stuck in a city they are unfamiliar with and didn't necessarily intent to spend time in (as in the case of becoming stranded in your stopover location). If the delay is anticipated to go as long as overnight, it may become necessary for you to seek accommodations for the evening—especially in a city where you either have no home, nor relatives or friends with whom you can stay. Usually in such cases, the airline will offer a list of approved hotels who will provide a discount for “distressed passengers.”

Being aware of these circumstances, and knowing that they occur frequently, should help to lessen the stress that you experience in dealing with them...and of course, given how costly your comfort can become in times when flights go awry, having traveler's insurance will help to offset that greatly.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Vacation and medical treatments all rolled into one?

When we hear talk of sandy beaches, and of friends or family heading to sunnier lands like those of Central America, our associative thoughts rarely ever lead us to think “medical care.” Nevertheless, the practice of traveling abroad to seek healthcare treatments and procedures at lower costs is an ever-growing trend, and we expect that more and more Canadians will be doing this in the future.

While traveling abroad for healthcare is a common practice among citizens of other countries, most Canadians have never considered traveling abroad for treatment. Canada certainly offers its citizens an excellent standard of medical care—and usually at no cost, to boot—that you would hardly expect a Canadian to believe that there might be something to the idea of seeking healthcare elsewhere. Indeed, this concept of our various provinces’ superior healthcare systems has solidified the opinion, in most Canadians’ minds, that Canada is one of the very few places in the world with such exceptional health care. Certainly, our system is one that we take a great deal of pride in, and rightfully so. However, when it comes to elective treatments, some Canadians are now turning to the trend that looks for a bargain treatment and vacation all rolled into one.

One of the first questions that comes to mind about this practice is: how can other countries possibly offer comparable treatments at such low costs? Won’t these treatments necessarily be inferior? And the pleasing answer to this question is, not at all. Here’s why: while Canada’s inflation rates have not been quite so bad as those of the US, they are still high in comparison with other countries. The cost of living has increased very, very rapidly in Canada at a pace that outstrips that of most other countries. Since many of these foreign countries have lower wages, lower costs of living, lower material costs, and so forth, it stands to reason that they can provide comparable healthcare services to Canada at much lower costs. For example, in 2011, 100 000 Canadians and Americans traveled to Costa Rica alone seeking healthcare there. Costa Rica is only one of several countries that offer a high standard of living, clean food, and fluency in English to visitors who make this their destination.

Should you find yourself considering, at any point, traveling abroad to seek medical treatment, now more than ever, you should make sure you purchase travel insurance. This is because you are necessarily in a situation where the expectation for medical emergencies is higher than if you were completely healthy and traveling for leisure purposes only. If you plan to seek treatments abroad, it’s worth speaking with your insurance provider about getting the best possible coverage while you are away. Chances are your broker will also be able to provide you with useful information about good destinations they’ve learned of from their other clients as well.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Reducing insurance rates for young drivers

One of the most basic trends in automobile insurance that novice and experts alike can recognize is the relative high expense of insuring an adolescent driver...and certainly, knowing that they fall into one of the highest rate categories of insured rivers can put a damper on the enthusiasm these new drivers have about obtaining a license. However, there are definitely things you can do to reduce that sting:

Take the Young Drivers of Canada course. Many insurance providers are willing to offer lower automobile insurance to drivers who have demonstrated that they have taken and passed the driver's ed course offered by Young Drivers of Canada. This is because it assures them that the driver in question has learned defensive driving, which in turn helps to establish that this driver is less likely to be involved in a collision.

Ask if you can increase the amount you would have to pay for a claim in the event of a collision. This will reduce your premiums. However, there are sometimes additional charges for claims made by young drivers already, so adding to that further could mean a very costly claim should a collision actually take place.

Learn if your provider offers discounts for limited use of a vehicle. Some companies will take into consideration the fact that a young driver will only be driving during the day. This could potentially reduce their risk (and thereby, their premiums) since about half of all collisions involving young drivers occur at night, when visibility is diminished.

Shop around. Don't assume that all providers are offering similar rates. You may be surprised about the variances in prices. And don't be shy about asking your broker to demonstrate for you that you are getting the best rate. A good insurance provider should be happy to do so.

Consider your car make, model, and year. Not all vehicles are treated equally when it comes to insurance premiums. If you are purchasing a car for a young driver and have some control in choosing (as opposed to using a vehicle already in your household), ask your provider in advance which vehicles tend to have lower premiums, and try to select your car from that list.

Have an adult sign on with the young driver. Frequently, including an adult driver on the insurance policy of a young driver can lower the costs.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Protecting your small business

While we've recently discussed the importance of protecting sensitive data, today we're going to specifically consider how crucial this is for small businesses. Often the assumption that most of us make about hackers and those seeking to breach sensitive data is that they target large corporations. Unfortunately, this is not the case: small businesses are at high risks of falling prey to these sorts of schemers as well. The following five suggestions outline practices that can help you protect your small business's sensitive data:

Keep information about clients and employees safe. Whether you store this data in hard copy files, or whether you have it stored in some type of electronic database (the more likely scenario) be sure that it is not easily accessible to outsiders. Use locks and passwords to protect such files. You may think it unnecessary, but you would be surprised at who might be looking where for such sensitive information. The last thing you want is to be held accountable for a breach in somebody else's confidentiality.

Don't make your confidential data accessible to all of your employees. The idea behind this is not to regard your employees with suspicion and distrust, but rather, to minimize the avenues through which sensitive data might be leaked. You don't need to presuppose bad intentions on your employees' parts to see the logic in this: often such leaks are accidental. Limiting the number of people who have access to that kind of information reduces the chances of this happening.

Watch how you throw. Never dispose of confidential information as-is in the garbage or recycling bins. Addresses, account numbers, and financial information can be easily collected from such sources. Ensure that such documents are shredded before you discard them.

Password protect all your computers. In addition to having passwords for particularly sensitive files, be sure that the computers you use, as well as your networks, are password protected. This simply adds one more layer of security, and the more layers you have, the better.

Have a privacy policy. Ensure that you have an actual document that outlines your company's privacy policy. You may be required to show it to your clients, and this isn't the sort of thing that you want to make up on the spot when inquiries are made. Having such a document prepared shows that you respect your clients and their privacy, and are doing your part to protect it.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Questions to ask your insurance provider about data protection

The age that we live in is increasingly abstract; that is to say, many of the things we use and produce are “virtual” goods. Take, for example, email: in all likelihood, the only copies of your correspondences exist either on your email server, or in archived folders on your computer if you're really organized. It is highly improbable that you have printed copies of every email you've ever sent, neatly filed into a binder with tabs for easy sorting—that just wouldn't be practical. Truly, the age of virtual items is an age of convenience. However, the virtualization of our goods comes with a disadvantage: we forget that these things are, indeed, things, and that they need to be protected. We are far more likely to remember the value of the vehicles we drive that we are to bear in mind the value of various files and documents that are of the utmost importance. If you are unsure of what your insurance coverage provides in terms of protecting your data, make it a point to speak with your provider in order to clarify this. Good questions to ask are not limited to, but may include, some of the following:

What am I currently not covered for? While home, business, and contents insurance plans can be quite comprehensive, they may not cover everything of value to you...and you may not know what is not covered. Often we don't recognize the need to protect certain items of ours until we lose them. Specifically asking your agent what you are not covered for helps to highlight any such omissions so that you can quickly and effectively determine how you will protect your goods.

Do I have sufficient coverage for my computer? Asking your broker to help you determine whether or not the coverage you have for your computer is adequate will broaden your understanding of the various scenarios that may result in information loss (which you may not have thought of), and the different degrees of coverage to protect against such loss. Whether or not you agree with your broker's opinion of the adequacy of your coverage, hearing their reasons for this opinion will help you gauge what's at stake, and how you would like to proceed in light of that.

Am I insured for loss of business? Aside from the actual value of the information and equipment (ie computer) itself, there are potential costs associated with damage or loss to this information. If you rely on this data to make a living, your earnings will be compromised in the face of disaster. As such, you may want to ensure that you take the necessary precautions to ensure that you are compensated if and when that happens.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Why buying life insurance young will save you thousands

There are pieces of advice that we hear so often, that we eventually start taking them for granted. We come to expect that the professionals offering us this advice will rightly remind us of these things from time to time, and that our response will be to pause, to say “I really should look into that sometime,” and most likely, to forget about it. That's certainly the way I've been responding for the past decade or so to my dentist's plea that I floss more regularly. Do I believe my dentist when she tells me that it will save me from various serious diseases in the long run? Absolutely...but I forget about it within days of resolving to do something about it.

I have a hunch that the same applies to the notion of buying life insurance: unless you are in the business, it probably isn't something that you think about daily. Every so often, you'll come across an article, or even meet someone from the industry, who mentions the importance of purchasing life insurance at a young age. You will likely see the logic in doing so, and may even resolve to add this to your to-do list. That said, because this isn't necessarily an urgent task, it may be pushed off until later, time and time again, until you forget about it. The following exercise is an attempt to remedy that; hopefully, in actually seeing figures applied to these scenarios, you will understand (in a memorable way) why life insurance should be among your priorities.

We'll start with the best hypothetical circumstance first: imagine that you are in your mid to late twenties, in good health, with goals and a vision for a successful future. If you fall into this category, you might actually be able to find plans as cheap as $15 a month. For the sake of this exercise, let us assume that you decide to begin investing in life insurance at the age of 25, and that you live to be 90. For 65 years, twelve payments a year (once per month) at $15 per month will cost you $11,700.

Let's contrast that with a scenario that may not be the absolute worst, but among the worse: imagine that you are now in your sixties—say, 65 years of age. The concept of good health is a relative term, because no matter how free of serious ailments you may be, things are still starting to slow down for you. Your insurance provider sees that, and it has a huge role to play in determining your rates. If you fall into this category, and are just deciding to invest in life insurance now, your rates could be as high as a staggering $150 per month. For the sake of a fair comparison, let us again assume a life expectancy of 90 years. This would mean that for 25 years, twelve payments a year (once per month) at $150 per month would cost you $45,000. This is more than triple what you would have paid if you had started investing at the age of 25, and gives you 40 years less of coverage!

The moral of the story is: heed the advice about buying life insurance when you're young. And floss every day, of course.