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Will a Claim Raise My Car Insurance Premiums?
You've been in an accident. What are your initial thoughts?

If you're like many vehicle owners, your mind quickly turns to the financial ramifications of the incident: "How much will repairs cost?" "If I make an insurance claim, will this accident increase my premiums?"

Too often, car owners don't file a claim for fear of potential rate increases.

The truth is, filing a claim may or may not increase your premium, as there are several factors that can affect this situation.

The Accident: How severe was the accident? Was it a fender bender or a major crash? If the damage was great, it's more likely to lead to a premium increase.

The Fault: Who was at fault in the accident? If you were at fault, it's more likely your rates will go up. Often if the fault lies with the other driver, your rates will not be affected.

In some areas, both insurance companies will pay for some of the costs as a result of "no fault" regulations in those areas. Your insurance carrier will determine if the incident results in an increase.

The Record: Is this your first accident? If you have a safe driving record and have been with your insurance company for a long time, you are less likely to experience a premium increase.

If it is your first accident, you also may be eligible for accident forgiveness.

The Theft: Was your car stolen? If you need to file a claim as a result of the theft of your car, rather than an accident, your rates may increase, especially if you live in a high-crime area.

If you suffer any vehicle damage, it's always a good idea to discuss your repair and replacement needs with your insurance agent.

He or she can help you determine the next best steps and walk you through the process of filing a claim.

The Best "Valentation" of All May Be Just around the Corner
Whether at home or abroad, nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like a romantic "Valentation." Here are a few thought-starters:

Paris: Choose a boutique hotel in a 17th-century building or check out the elegant Right Bank from a hotel near the Champs-Elysees and the magnificent Arc de Triomphe.

Mykonos: If you're considering Greece, pick an island - almost any island - and you're sure to find sparkling sea views, rugged walks, and idyllic beaches. Ask, and most people will unhesitatingly recommend Mykonos. Try the Vencia Boutique Hotel for almost perfection at a reasonable price.

Ravello: Italy may be the most romantic place on earth, and while anywhere you choose will delight you, Ravello is special. High above the Amalfi coast, expect breathtaking scenery, an enchanting village, and spectacular cuisine. Try the Hotel Rufolo in the historic center of town - a family-run charmer with an outdoor pool and breakfast included.

New York: New York, New York is twice as exciting when you're in love. Go to plays, go to jazz clubs, go to restaurants, or just stay in a romantic (albeit expensive) spot like The Mark Hotel and explore the city that never sleeps.

Sydney: Often overlooked, Sydney defines "lovers' nirvana" with picturesque spaces, a fabulous harbor, and intimate cafes. Take selfies at every corner and be seduced by the beauty of Sydney.

Home getaway: "Home getaway" may seem like an oxymoron, but a Valentation at home just might be the best Valentine's Day present of all. Play tourist, but come home to familiar (and romantic) surroundings.

Hold the Small Talk at Parties: Connect with Authenticity
It's easy to get trapped in boring small talk at parties or events. But don't let your conversation stop there; you may be missing an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with others.

Small talk produces small rewards. It's easy, but generally of little value. It may fill silences, but it's unlikely to establish a human connection. On the other hand, meaningful conversation has an emotional component. And that may have a positive impact on your health.

According to research conducted by the University of Arizona and noted in an article by the Wall Street Journal: "People who have more substantive conversations with others report a greater sense of well-being than those who engage in small talk." The study found that "the happy life is social rather than solitary and conversationally deep rather than superficial."

It's never easy, suggests Sue Shellenbarger in the article; it must be learned: "The ability to draw others into meaningful conversations can determine whether people want to get to know you, or remember you at all."

To be meaningful to your conversational partner, you need to show warmth and sincere interest. Above all, you should be authentic.

For example, instead of talking about the weather or asking tedious questions about the wine, you might begin with a probing question such as, "What are you working on that excites you?" or, "What do you love most about your work?" Yes, it may fall flat, Shellenbarger warns, but it's worth the risk. Long-term friendships can start here!

The First Steps to Take After a Disaster Has Occurred
When disaster strikes, it's hard to know what to do first. When it comes to insurance claims, the process can feel like an overwhelming task on top of everything else you need to do. However, homeowners can take the following steps to make this process smooth and simple.

1. Get started immediately

With a lot on your plate, it might be tempting to put this task off for a later date. Don't do it. Contact your insurance agent right away to start the claims process. Provide a description of the damage to your property, and a company representative will walk you through any necessary documentation. If you have a home inventory, provide this to the representative.

Once you start the claims process, your carrier will arrange an inspection of damages. Be sure to provide your contact information - such as where you can be reached - since disasters often change your coordinates.

2. Get the details

As the representative helps you through the process, it's important to get a clear understanding of what is expected. Find out:
  • Whether the disaster damage is covered under your policy
  • How long the claims process will take
  • What they need from you (estimates for repairs, receipts for belongings)
3. Get more details

If your policy offers coverage for the disaster damage, review your declarations page with your agent or company representative to get a clear understanding of what is actually covered, including structural damage, loss of personal belongings, and liability payments. Then you can move forward with decisions on repairs and reimbursements.
Is Shopping Online for Insurance Really a Bargain?
Buying auto or homeowners insurance on the internet seems easy and cheap. But is it?

Buying auto or homeowners insurance on the internet seems easy and cheap. But is it? Discover how relying on the web to protect your most valuable assets could cost you more - and put you and your loved ones at risk - by requesting my free guide, "The Dangers of Shopping Online for Insurance."
Just reply to this email and I'll send it right out to you.
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Chocolate Strawberry Panna Cotta
This romantic Valentine's Day dessert
Serves 6
3 cups frozen strawberries thawed in a strainer
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Store-bought chocolate sauce to taste
Blend together strawberries, buttermilk, and sugar until smooth, then pour through a fine sieve into a medium bowl.

In a separate small bowl, add gelatin to the whole milk and let stand.

Bring the cream to a simmer, remove from heat, and add the gelatin mixture. Stir until dissolved.

Whisk together cream and buttermilk mixtures, then pour evenly into 6 small stemmed glasses. Chill for at least 8 hours.

Serve with a fresh strawberry and drizzle chocolate sauce on top.
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. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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