A home burglary takes place in the United States every 14.6 seconds. According to The Washington Post/Bureau of Justice Statistics, thirty-four percent of these burglars gain access to their victim’s home by simply walking across the welcome mat and through the front door.
Before you rush out to purchase an elaborate home security system or guard dog to protect your property, you should know there are 11 simple things you can do to dramatically reduce the risk of loss.
Employing these simple, precautionary measures and combining them with the protection you get from Mercury’s homeowner insurance can help provide peace-of-mind that comes from knowing your home is protected.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Tax season is well underway, and that means your tax refund—and your identity—are in play for identity thieves looking for an easy payday.
Tax identity theft is a fast-growing crime, impacting more than 260,000 victims a year and costing the IRS more than $3 billion in fraudulent tax refunds.1 In 2016 alone, the IRS reported a 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents related to this crime.
“Tax refund fraud is a growing problem and it impacts hundreds of thousands of tax payers each year,” said Kevin Quinn, vice president of claims for Mercury Insurance. “There are a number of proactive steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim, however, and it costs very little money to protect yourself and your family’s sensitive information.”
Taxpayers can protect themselves by learning how to spot some of the most common scams criminals use to steal valuable personally identifiable information. Here are a few of the more common scams used by fraudsters.
It’s important for taxpayers to remember that the IRS first contacts people with a letter in the mail if there is an issue with tax payment. The agency will never initiate contact through email or social media, nor will it ever demand immediate payment of taxes or make threats to involve local police for not paying.
Follow these five tips to protect yourself:
Take action now before a thief steals your identity or tax refund. Mercury Insurance customers can get identity management help for less than $3 per month from our partner, CyberScout. Speak to your Mercury agent (yes, Mercury is one of the companies we represent) about this valuable coverage today.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
As a parent, you watch your child hit all the milestones—the first smile, the first words, the first steps. And far too quickly those milestones get bigger. Suddenly your child is a teen, itching to get behind the wheel of a car.
A new teen driver on the road is a daunting prospect for any parent. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, drivers ages 15 to 19 accounted for only 6.5 percent of the U.S. population in 2016 but represented 8.4 percent of costs related to vehicle accidents.
But rather than sitting by the door biting your nails as you wait for her to drive home from an evening out with her friends, help ensure your teen’s safety with a little extra help from her smartphone. A number of safe-driving apps actually reinforce smart habits behind the wheel that your kids have already learned in driving school and (hopefully) from you.
When she’s safely ensconced on the couch and craving screen time, have her download one of these safe driving apps to help keep her focused while on the road:
Bouncie: Whether you use the free version or upgrade for more features, this smartphone safe-driving app not only helps you keep track of your teen on the road (with real-time location updates) but also alerts him immediately if he’s speeding, accelerating too hard, braking too hard, or engaging in other unsafe driving behaviors. Plus, the driving app maintains a driving habit history so you can track his improvement over time.
Safe and Sound by Toyota: With speed and smartphone use being the two biggest contributors to vehicle accidents, this safe-driving app keeps your teen from texting and scrolling through Instagram when her eyes should be on the road. It automatically sets smartphones to “Do Not Disturb” mode when the vehicle is in motion, and if your teen breaks the rules, this driving app turns control of her music playlist over to you!
TrueMotion Family: This free driving app not only lets you track your teen’s location while he’s driving but keeps track of the whole family—their locations while in motion and while parked, everyone’s driving habits (i.e. no speeding or texting while driving because Mom and Dad will know!), and even rates the household drivers’ habits against one another, so you can start some friendly family competition that will also inspire teen safety.
DriveSmart: Give your mobile-savvy teen a little extra incentive to drive safely. With the DriveSmart free driving app, you can not only track your teen’s driving habits on every trip she makes, but she can collect Smartcoins for demonstrated safe driving practices. Nothing like earning a little extra spending money for keeping her eyes on the road!
AT&T Drive Mode: Kill the distractions that could get your teen in an accident with this safe-driving app that silences smartphone alerts when your teen is driving over 15 mph. The app automatically responds to texts to let senders know he’s driving and allows one-touch music and navigation access. The app will even send an alert to you if your teen turns it off.
Teen safety on the road is serious business. Keep your loved ones a little bit safer and inspire some friendly competition and fun at the same time with one of these safe driving apps. Ensure your teen’s next milestone moment—getting that driver’s license—is a positive one!
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Home remodeling projects were once done to increase a home’s resale value, but many homeowners are deciding to stay put for the long-term instead of planning a time-consuming move. HomeAdvisor’s 2018 True Cost Survey found more than 80 percent of homeowners plan to stay in their existing home, and half of the survey’s respondents are considering a remodel to make their homes more aesthetically appealing and comfortable.
Now that 2018 is in our rear-view mirror, we’ve taken a look back at some of the “what’s hot,” “top 10” and “hot trends” lists for home remodeling ideas that show up each December. If you’re planning to remodel your home, here are some home renovation ideas for 2019:
When making home improvements, not everything can be “in” or “hot.” Our tour of the year-end lists showed that some home designs are showing signs of age. For instance:
No matter what the experts say, if you plan to spend many years to come in your home, be sure to choose design features that suit your needs and taste. If you can afford it, consider consulting with a professional about what you’re trying to achieve with your home renovations before the work begins. Ultimately, the goal is to help make your home just that…your home.
Whether you choose to renovate your kitchen, bathroom or another part of the house, be sure to remodel your homeowner’s insurance, too. Many of these projects might leave gaps in coverage, as your existing homeowner’s insurance policy might not protect the updated look and value of your home. Meeting with your insurance agent might not be in your initial plans, but it’s a vital component of protecting new upgrades, and you might find that some smart home upgrades may even qualify for an insurance discount.
EMERGE INSURANCE AGENCY
Your guide to the healthiest foods in the supermarket.
Eating healthy has oodles of positive benefits - for the body and the mind alike. When we eat well we feel good, when we feel good we’re happier, when we’re happier we’re more productive… and the wonderful cycle continues. Increasingly, shops and restaurants around the world are getting on the healthy eating bandwagon - making it easier for people to treat their bodies right. This list of 10 of the healthiest foods in the world is just a beginning guide - a way to understand the essential vitamins and minerals the human body needs to stay functioning at its best. And as an added boost - these healthy foods are all downright delicious!
This nutrient-dense green superfood is readily available - fresh, frozen or even canned. One of the healthiest foods on the planet, spinach is packed with energy while low in calories, and provides Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and essential folate.
EASY EATING TIP: Sauté with onion and add to an omelet for an easy, healthy meal.
2. BLACK BEANS
Filled with super healthy antioxidants, black beans digest slowly - keeping you feeling full for longer. These little beauties are full of calcium, protein and fiber, and they also taste great!
EASY EATING TIP: Think Mexican food! Burritos, nachos, tacos… whatever tickles your fancy.
With more antioxidants than any other nut, walnuts are also brimming with Vitamin E, and rich in plant serums, omega 3 oils, and healthy fats.
EASY EATING TIP: Keep a supply in your bag for an easy, healthy snack on-the-go
Good for the brain and skilled at lowering blood pressure, the humble beet is often overlooked as one of the healthiest foods on earth. The brightly-colored root vegetable is filled with folate, magnesium and Vitamin C.
EASY EATING TIP: Grate them into salads for a sweet, crunchy boost.
Eating just one or two avocados a week gives you all the benefit of healthy monounsaturated fats, Vitamin B6 and loads of folate. Check with your local grocer to find out when this spreadable fruit is in season in your area.
EASY EATING TIP: On toast with salt and pepper, or a slice of cheese if you’re that way inclined.
6. DARK CHOCOLATE
According to recent research, chocolate contains more antioxidants, gram-for-gram, than most fruit juices - great news for chocoholics! On top of protecting the body from diseases and helping to prevent heart conditions, dark chocolate is a natural mood-booster.
EASY EATING TIP: Eat this healthy food in moderation - just one or two squares per day is enough to reap the benefits.
Like most berries, raspberries are filled with antioxidants, to help keep the body healthy and free of disease. Fresh or frozen, they also provide Vitamin C, calcium and iron.
EASY EATING TIP: Sprinkle them on yogurt or porridge in the morning to start your day in a sweet and delicious way.
This pungent bulb has been used to ward off disease for centuries, as it inhibits the growth of bacteria, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and has some serious anti-inflammatory power.
EASY EATING TIP: Crush it and cook it. Garlic tastes great in everything from dressings and sauces to curries and soups.
Often touted as the world’s healthiest food, lemons have strong anti-inflammatory qualities and can help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. They also have just as much Vitamin C as oranges.
EASY EATING TIP: Add a slice of lemon to your tea or water bottle to get healthy and hydrated at the same time.
Last but not least, this mighty legume is high in fiber and protein and adds great taste and texture to any meal. Vegans and vegetarians are often a fan of using lentils as a meat substitute in traditional recipes.
EASY EATING TIP: Add to salads, soups and stews for some extra oomph.
EMERGE INSUANCE AGENCY
Cecil Williams -