10 Smart Tips to Keep Your Smart Phone Safe

These days most people are using their phones for everything.  They are little computers and we are increasingly keeping all our personal and important data stored on them.  This practice is now making our smart phones more susceptible to privacy breaches and putting all our private information at risk.  According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more than half of all Americans have smart phones and more than 20 percent have been victims of mobile cybercrime.  In DC, New York and other major cities, roughly 40 percent of all robberies now involve cell phones, endangering both the physical safety of victims and the safety of the personal information on stolen devices.

smart phone

Even if this is not your first smartphone, you will want to follow these 10 great safety tips from the FCC:

  1. Set PINs and Passwords
  2. Do not modify or alter your smartphone’s security settings
  3. Back up and secure your data
  4. Install apps ONLY from trusted sources
  5. Understand application (app) permissions before accepting them
  6. Install security apps that enable remote location and wiping
  7. Accept updates and patches to your smartphone’s software
  8. Turn off Bluetooth and NFC (near field communication) when not in use
  9. Be smart on open Wi-Fi networks; take extra care to secure your data
  10. Report a stolen smartphone to your wireless provider and to local law enforcement

Your homeowner policy may cover a lost or stolen smartphone, but the deductible could be higher than the value of the phone.  Various cell phone companies will offer an extended warranty program that covers loss or theft.  You can check with your provider for additional information, or call your agent here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge.  We’re ready to answer any questions you have.

Rock on This Weekend at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum!

If you love rock and roll and want to travel to Cleveland, Ohio, that’ where our Go! Weekend Pick will take you.  As the website says, the greatest stories and the biggest names in rock and roll shine on at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  The experience includes 4 theaters, multiple interactive stations and 7 floors of exhibits that tell the story of the world’s most powerful art form.

Go Weekend Pick

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

You can explore the past, present and future of rock and roll at the Hall of Fame and Museum.  There are a number of exhibits for you and your family’s enjoyment:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame presents “Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction”:

This is the first major exhibition of the band that captures their career of 50 plus years.  It includes personal items and remarkable collections that have never been seen before by the public.  The exhibit will be open until March of 2014.  For tickets and more information on the Exhibits, click here.

The Beatle Exhibit: 

Quoting the Museum’s Vice President of Exhibitions, Jim Henke, “The Rock Hall’s extensive redesign includes the most comprehensive, artifact-driven Beatles exhibit in the world.”   Some highlights of the exhibit include – Nearly 70 artifacts, including a few that have not been exhibited before:

  1. George Harrison’s striped suit from the 1966 US tour.
  2. Ringo Starr’s 1969 birthday card to John Lennon.
  3. John Lennon’s black wool coat worn in Help!
  4. Paul McCartney’s handwritten arrangement for “Birthday”.

Additional highlights include – John Lennon’s Gibson J-160E acoustic guitar.  Lenon used this guitar to record “Norwegian Wood” and “Give Peace a Chance.”

New inductees into the Hall of Fame for 2014 include:  Cat Stevens, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Nirvana, Kiss, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, Andrew Loog Oldham, Brian Epstein, and The E Street Band.

Take a spin this weekend and travel Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, its sure to be a musical adventure!  We here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency wish you and your family a safe and happy weekend!

Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours

I hope as you’re waking up this morning and enjoying your Christmas Day, I hope it is with family and friends, and your day is filled with joy, peace, and blessings beyond measure.

Christmas living room

Our days can get so hectic and busy working and just going on with the day to day activities of life that we can forget to take a moment to stop, relax and savor the precious moments with our children, parents, and relatives.  My wish for you this Christmas is that you will have many special memories that will be with you for many years to come.

I put together a list of some of my favorite Christmas quotes from Quote Garden.  I hope you enjoy them:

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year – and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority. ~W.J. Cameron

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly. ~Andy Rooney

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveler, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. ~Charles Dickens

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. ~Peg Bracken

At Christmas, all roads lead home. ~Marjorie Holmes

Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish. Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself. ~Francis C. Farley

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~W.T. Ellis

Our Family at Barker, Beck, Collins, and Kronauge Agency wish your family a very Merry Christmas.

A Wise Decision: Consider Re-appraising your valuables

During the Christmas season, many people will be making special purchases, items such as jewelry, guns, furs, artwork, special collectables and other high ticket items.  These items would be well deserving of a Personal Articles Floater, because this type of property often requires more coverage than what is covered on a homeowner’s policy.  It is a good time to also stop and consider having valuables re-appraised that have been appraised in past years, because often values of special items can change dramatically with a changing financial market.

diamond ring2

According to Crain’s Cleveland Business there are a few good reasons to re-appraise your valuables:

If you had your valuables assessed more than five years ago, a re-appraisal would be in order.  Many people when faced with a claim, are taken by surprise to find out that their property value has changed considerably, and they will not receive what the item is currently worth.  You want to make sure the value on your schedule (listing each possession and valuing them separately) is not below the appraised value.

If you have an appraisal prior to 2009, you should seriously consider updating your information.  The market crash of 2008 drastically affected the art market as well as all other markets.  The fine art market has mostly recovered, however, certain collectibles, such as antique furniture, are still recovering.  There are always exceptions, but those are reserved for the best of the best in the collection world.

When dealing with estate planning, current appraisals are essential so that owners can plan for donation, estate tax and distribution and make adjustments to their plan to reflect updated values.

If you have any questions about a Personal Articles Floater or whether your valuables need re-appraised, call your agent at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge.  We are just a phone call away!

Does Santa Scuba Dive? Yes He Does! Find Out Where…

This week’s Go Weekend Pick is going to send you on trip to see Santa in a setting you don’t normally find him in.  The Newport Aquarium in Newport Kentucky, just across the bridge from Cincinnati, Ohio is where you will find him making his rounds this weekend, or I should say “swimming his rounds”!

Go Weekend Pick

ScubaSanta-Denver

The Newport Aquarium’s website declares that their Scuba Santa has been called one of the most unusual holiday experiences in America.  Come and discover what it’s all about.  They say your whole family will marvel at Santa’s magical dive show where Santa, his elf and even some friendly fish talk to you from beneath the sea.  Plus, he’ll even read a special underwater version of the celebrated ‘Twas the Night before Christmas from his Magic Story Book.  Newport Aquarium invites you and your family to experience the joy of their annual family holiday tradition and see what the whole country’s been talking about! For more information and Santa’s complete schedule, click here.

The following family fun activities are Free with admission:

  • Play the Reindeer Roundup game and help Scuba Santa find his missing reindeer
  • Visit Scuba Santa’s Post Office and write a letter
  • Hear Scuba Santa talk from beneath the sea during magical underwater dive shows

In addition to seeing Santa, you can have a penguin encounter!  This 20 minute experience will allow you to see Black-footed penguins up close and personal.  You will be able to speak with an animal experience specialist who handles the adorable birds, even take pictures and possibly touch one! ….  There is an additional cost for this activity, but well worth the additional $25.00.  For tickets and more information on this fun filled activity, click here.

The Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency family hope you have a very merry and safe weekend!

 

Great Winter Tips to Keep Your Sidewalks Snow and Ice Free

December 21st marks the first day of winter.  However, snow has been falling since November and with that snow fall comes slippery pathways on sidewalks, steps and driveways.  Keep your family safe and your sidewalks and driveway clear of ice and snow with these great tips:

snow covered sidewalk

Have a Plan in Place Before the Snow Starts:

Having the proper equipment is very important.  So, be sure to have a reliable shovel on hand along with salt, sand or other types of ice melt.  An ice chipper can also be very helpful.  If you run out of salt, and have a water softener.  You can use the salt from that.  Just be sure not leave it on sidewalks or driveways long after the ice melts or it can eat away at concrete surfaces.  Also, you can warm sand in the microwave, so when you cover walks and driveways it will penetrate ice, and its gritty covering will provide needed traction.

Timely removal of snow is important:

Make sure to shovel sidewalks and driveways often during a snowstorm, because compressed snow turns to ice and is much more difficult to remove.  Also, the job is much easier if you don’t give the snow a chance to accumulate.  In case snow does become compacted, a sharp metal snow shovel is the best for removing it.

Shoveling:

Snow can become very heavy as it accumulates, so push snow to the side as you shovel instead of trying to lift it out of the way.  This is much easier on the back and shoulders.  If you do have to lift, do so with your legs bent not your back, and keep your spine straight.  If snow has a problem sticking your shovel blade, try spraying it with cooking oil.

Ice Cleanup:

Ice melts during the day when temperatures warm up and the sun is out.  It is easier to remove during this time, so try to take advantage of clearing during the daylight hours.  To make sidewalks safer, spread sand or gravel on icy patches or even before ice forms.  This can allow for easier removal of future ice.  Make sure downspouts are turned away from where people walk, so when ice melts and re-freezes it will not become a hazard for pedestrians.

Listen to your Body:

Dress in several layers of warm clothing and insulated boots that have reliable grip and support.  Make sure to stretch muscles before shoveling or chipping at ice, and if you have any health conditions check with your doctor to make sure the physical activity of clearing snow and ice is okay.  Be sure to take frequent breaks too, at least every 10 to 15 minutes.

Be sure to seek medical help if you experience any of these symptoms:

Discomfort or heaviness in the chest, arm or neck.

Unusual or prolonged shortness of breath.

A prolonged dizzy or faint feeling.

Excessive sweating or nausea or vomiting.

Excessive back pain.

We here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency hope you find these snow and ice removal tips helpful and as always, we are just a phone call away for any insurance questions you may have.

When is The Best Time to Buy Life Insurance?

Life insurance isn’t a purchase you make for yourself.  It’s for those that we leave behind.  So when do you buy it, and how much coverage do you need?  These are just a couple questions people ask when considering such an important decision.  The following helpful tips are guidelines to use when thinking about buying life insurance:

life-insurance-for-family-members

When you are young:  People don’t typically need life insurance before they are an adult.  If someone passes at a young age, it doesn’t really present a financial burden on anyone.  Now, an argument for purchasing at a young age is that the insurance will cost much less, and it can grow with the child.  If you are a young adult caring for parents or another individual and they depend on your support, you may want to consider buying life insurance as well.

When you marry:  If you marry, don’t have children yet and both spouses contribute to the household equally, there may not be a need for insurance.  However, it could still present a burden if one spouse cannot keep up the mortgage payment and additional household bills on one income if the other passes away.  So, you may want to take into account your specific circumstances when weighing the need for life insurance.

When you have children:  If your household has children and relies on one income, this is the perfect example of a high-need situation.  If the income earner of the household should die, the burden would fall on the nonearning spouse.  So, having insurance on the breadwinner is crucial.  Also, if the nonearning spouse passes away, the cost of daycare could be costly so a policy on both spouses may be in order.

When you are at retirement age:  After your children have grown and moved away from home and you are no longer supporting them, there isn’t much need for a large amount of life insurance.  However, if your estate is large enough to be subject to estate tax, you could use a death benefit to pay the IRS.  Also, the policy would not be counted as part of your estate if it was held in a trust.   In this case, you may want to consider a whole life policy because you will need to keep your coverage indefinitely.

If you have any questions about the important decision of life insurance, please call your agent at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency.  We are here for you and your family’s insurance necessities.

It’s a Wonderful Life This Weekend!

If you loved the classic movie with Jimmy Stewart It’s a Wonderful Life, well you will be sure to love Dayton, Ohio Victoria Theatre’s IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY of this treasured movie.  The stage brings to life this beloved classic as a 1940’s radio broadcast.  This show has a cast full of talent, and a myriad of spectacular sound effects.

Go Weekend Pick

its a wonderful life

The show jumps off the screen and onto the stage as five actors perform dozens of characters in the radio play.  IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY premiered in 1996 at Stamford Center for the Arts in Stamford, Connecticut, and has since been produced around the country to critical acclaim.  Here are just a couple reviews from the Victoria Theatre’s website:

“This blast from the past gets its wings with a letter – perfect production!” – The Seattle Times
“One of the best holiday shows around.  This is a fresh and inventive way of reconnecting with a classic story of love and redemption.” – Chicago Sun-Times

 Quoting Dayton Local contributing writer, Mike Woody from his review of the play, “To be honest, my expectations for “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” were rather low as I figured the reading of a full length movie couldn’t be very entertaining.  I have no shame in admitting that I was wrong.  The show was a delight to witness and to call it a reading would be an extreme understatement as the cast is very lively throughout the performance.  The energy in their voices turns the radio play into a virtual full-fledged stage production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

If you want to take in this wonderful event, it is recommended for ages 6 and up.  Show times are:

Friday, December 13, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Victoria Theatre website.  To find out what else is going on around Dayton, Ohio this weekend, go to the Dayton Local website.

Have a wonderful weekend from all of us here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency!

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Good Health: Great Tips for Flu Prevention

The holidays should be memorable and enjoyable, not spent sick in bed.  According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity usually peaks in January or later.  Make sure your family is healthy and happy this holiday season by practicing the great tips below:

flu_cold_sniffles

The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get a vaccination every year, but practicing safe health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.  The following tips from the CDC website will also ensure a healthy and happy holiday season this year, so you can spend more time shopping, laughing and having a wonderful time with your family!

Avoid close contact.  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

Stay home when you are sick.  If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick.  You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

Cover your mouth and nose.  Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.  You can also cough into your elbow to prevent releasing germs into the air.  It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

Clean your hands.  Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.  If you are someplace where you can’t use soap and water, an alcohol-based hand rub will work well.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  People touch surfaces all the time, such as grocery carts, counter tops, door knobs, sink faucets, etc… These things can be contaminated with germs and those germs can be transferred when a person touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

Practice other good health habits.  Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.  Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

From the Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency family to your family, make this holiday season a happy, healthy and memorable one!

Is Your Home Covered When Winter Hits?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac predictions for bitterly cold temperatures and heavy snowfalls in many parts of the U.S. are right in line so far, so be prepared.  Blizzards, ice storms, and other winter weather will abound, so make sure your home is covered.  Damage can occur to roofs and pipes, so check what may be covered below and use the great tips to prevent damage.

800px-Log_house_in_Anchorage_Alaska_sits_up_in_deep_crisp_snow,_around_Christmas

During frigid temperatures, water damage can occur if your pipes are not properly insulated or if there are cracks or leaks.  As long as you haven’t left your home unoccupied and cold, most home insurance covers repairs for:

  1.  The broken pipe
  2.  Water damage in your home
  3.  Water damage to furnishings

As a preventive measure, make sure to keep your home warm.  Set your thermostat for at least 65 degrees, because the temperature inside the walls where pipes are located is significantly colder and setting your thermostat at a lower temperature will not prevent your pipes from freezing.  If your pipes do freeze, know where your pipes are and learn how to shut the water off.  Time is of the essence so, quickly shut off the water and point your plumber to the problem.  You will have greater success in preventing the pipes from bursting if you do this.

During heavy snowfalls, snow and ice can accumulate in your gutters and on your roof.  Some of the following damage can occur and should be covered in a standard homeowner’s policy:

What’s covered when water leaks through your roof:

  1.  Water damage to your home
  2. Water damage to your furnishings

What’s covered on a roof cave-in due to the weight of the snow:

  1.  Damage caused by the weight of ice, snow or sleet

What’s covered if your gutters are clogged with ice:

  1.  Damage to ceilings and walls from water leaks.

Ways to help prevent a snow and ice problem with your roof:  Make sure to remove leaves, branches and other debris, so that when snow melts it can move freely.  This prevents ice from clogging the gutters and causing water to seep into the house and drip from the ceiling and walls.  Also, add extra insulation to your attic.  If too much heat escapes through the attic, it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof.  This water can re-freeze and cause more ice to build up and result in a collapsed roof.  The attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air.

Check your homeowner’s policy and make sure what damage is covered due to winter storms.  If you have any questions, please call your agent at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency.  We would be glad to answer any questions you have.