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Five insurance mistakes to avoid... (and still save money)

 

 



Avoid these pitfalls when buying auto, home, flood and renters insurance.

 


 

Saving money feels good. And shopping around when you’re looking for insurance coverage is a great way to do it. However, simply reducing your coverage or dropping important coverages altogether is like diet without exercise—focused only on numbers, not on results. Don’t risk ending up dangerously underinsured and on the hook for much bigger bills in the event of a disaster.

Following are the five most common auto, home, flood and renters insurance mistakes people make, along with suggestions to avert those pitfalls while still saving money (we call them, “better ways to save”):

1. Insuring a home for its real estate value rather than for the cost of rebuilding.

When real estate prices go down, some homeowners may think they can reduce the amount of insurance on their home. But insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, not the sales price of the home. You should make sure that you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace your belongings—no matter what the real estate market is doing.

A better way to save: Raise your deductible. An increase from $500 to $1,000 could save up to 25 percent on your premium payments.

2. Selecting an insurance company by price alone.

It is important to choose a company with competitive prices. But be sure the insurer you choose is financially sound and provides good customer service.

A better way to save: Check the financial health of a company with independent rating agencies (some well-known ones: A.M. Best, Moody's), and ask friends and family members about their experiences with insurers. Select an insurance company that will respond to your needs and handle claims fairly and efficiently.

3. Dropping flood insurance.

Damage from flooding is not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as from some private insurance companies. You may not be aware you’re at risk for flooding, but keep in mind that 25 percent of all flood losses occur in low risk areas. Furthermore, yearly weather patterns—spring runoff from melting winter snows, for example—can cause flooding.

A better way to save: Before purchasing a home, check with the NFIP to determine whether a property is situated in a flood zone; if so, you may want to consider a less risky area. If you are already living in a designated flood zone, look at mitigation efforts that can reduce your risk of flood damage and consider purchasing flood insurance. Additional information on flood insurance can be found at www.FloodSmart.gov.

4. Only purchasing the legally required amount of liability for your car.

The minimum is just that—the least you can get away with by law. So buying only the minimum amount of liability means you are likely to pay more out-of-pocket later. And if you are sued, those costs can jeopardize your financial well-being.

A better way to save: Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage on older cars worth less than $1,000. The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident.

5. Neglecting to buy renters insurance.

A renters insurance policy covers your possessions and additional living expenses if you have to move out due to an insured disaster, such as a fire or hurricane. Equally important, it provides liability protection in the event someone is injured in your home and decides to sue.

 

A better way to save: Look into multi-policy discounts. Buying several policies with the same insurer, such as renters, auto, and life will generally provide savings.

 

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Looking for the perfect fall Instagram pic in Southwest Florida this season? We've got you covered.

 

 

FM Great PUmpkin Festival

(Photo: Getty Images)

Wondering how you can share in the fall fun you see on social media? Wonder no more. Southwest Florida may be the land of eternal summer, but there are plenty of pumpkin patches, haunted houses and fall festivals to make your Instagram autumn-approved.

Pumpkin Patches:

Faith Presbyterian Church Pumpkin Patch 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 7 through 31 at Faith Presbyterian Church, 4544 Coronado Parkway, Cape Coral.

North Naples Church Pumpkin Patch 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 through 31, at North Naples Church, 6000 Goodlette Road N., Naples.  Pumpkins of all sizes, corn stalks and gourds range $1 to $20. Cash or check only.

St. Monica’s Episcopal Church Pumpkin Patch 1 to 7 p.m. Oct. 16 through 31 at St. Monica’s Episcopal Church, 7070 Immokalee Road, Naples.

 

General Events:

Fall Walk 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 26 through 27, at Naples Botanical Garden, 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples. This seasonal experience will feature lights, live music, a pumpkin patch and more. Children and adults may both wear costumes. Adults are asked not to wear masks. Member pricing: $10 per adult, $5 per child. Non-member pricing: $20 per adult, $10 per child. Children 3 and younger are free. 239-643-7275. Naplesgarden.org.

Immokalee Pioneer Pumpkin Palooza 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Oct. 20, at Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch, 1215 Roberts Avenue W., Immokalee. This event will feature a pumpkin patch, hay maze, hayrides, arts and crafts, scavenger hunt, pioneer games and other Halloween-related activities. Food and drink will be available for purchase. 239-252-2611.

Farmer Mike's U Pick Corn Maze and Fall Festival Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in October at Farmer Mike’s U Pick, 26031 Morton Ave., Bonita Springs. Farmer Mike's Fall Festival offers photo opportunities, games, food and drink available for purchase, a hay ride and two corn mazes (haunted maze and non-haunted maze). Event also includes “pick your own pumpkin patch.” Costumes, flashlights, glow sticks and lanterns are welcome. $12 per person for non-haunted maze. $18 per person for haunted maze. Free for children 2 and younger. Haunted maze open only on select dates (Oct. 11-13, Oct. 18-19 and Oct. 25-27). farmermikesupick.com/corn-maze-2018-tickets.

File Illustration - Halloween

File Illustration - Halloween (Photo: FamVeld, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Fort Myers Fall Festival at Southern Fresh Farms 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in October at Southern Fresh Farms, 8500 Penzance Blvd., Fort Myers. Event features hayrides, a petting zoo, vendors, photo opportunities, music and a pumpkin patch. 239-768-0309.

Fort Myers Zombie Halloween Party 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Oct. 27, at Millennial Brewing Co., 1811 Royal Palm Avenue, Fort Myers. Adults only. Free admission. The street will be closed for this Zombie Halloween Party, featuring themed food items, a costume contest, dancing with a live DJ and themed beer cocktails. 239-271-2255.

Great Pumpkin Festival 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 14, at Fleamasters Fleamarket, 4135 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Fort Myers. Celebrate the fall harvest season and pick out a pumpkin from the Great Pumpkin Patch to decorate and take home, listen to live music and see the Whispering Pines Clydesdales. 239-334-7001.

More: 16 Instagram-worthy spots to check-in around Southwest Florida

More: Where to enjoy fall festivals, Halloween haunts in Naples, Bonita, Fort Myers

Legends of Oblivion Haunted House 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, through Sunday, Oct. 21, and Friday, Oct. 26 through Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Lee County Civic Center, 11831 Bayshore Road, Fort Myers. Event features a haunted house, pumpkin patch, an escape room, games and a hay maze. $25 per person for admission, $5 per vehicle to park. legendsofoblivion.com.

Mercato's Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Mercato, 9132 Strada Place, Naples. Event features 60 craft beers with a spotlight on Florida breweries, live music, raffles, a costumes contest and a stein holding contest. $65 for VIP tickets, including early entry at 4 p.m., cheese and beer pairing session, two limited-release beers, unlimited bottled water and soda and dedicated restrooms. $35 per person for general admission in advance, $40 at the gate.rmhcswfl.org/events/brew-ha-ha-craft-beer-festival.

Naples Halloween Spooktacular On Fifth Avenue South 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Fifth Avenue South, 659 Fifth Avenue S., Naples. Free to attend. The entire street will be closed for costume contests, live music, games, street dances, spooky movies and trick or treating. fifthavenuesouth.com.

Pumptober Fest 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at Bell Tower Shops, 13499 S. Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers. $35 per person includes unlimited tastings of ales, lagers, pilsners and stouts served in keepsake mini-mugs. Event will also feature a DJ, a stilit walker and balloon artist and face painting. 239-332-3624. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Scarecrows in the Park Oct. 12 through 28 at Lakes Regional Park, 7330 Gladiolous Drive, Fort Myers. Local businesses, community members, organizations, schools and youth groups can join the contest fun by fashioning custom-made scarecrows to be displayed at Lakes Park during the festival. Proceeds will benefit the Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation. Prizes will be awarded in multiple categories by a team of celebrity judges at the Scarecrows VIP Party on Saturday, Oct. 13. Fall Festival attendees will vote for their favorites in the People’s Choice competition. People’s Choice winners will be announced the last week of the Festival. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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12 Breast Cancer Myths Debunked

Do underwire bras or antiperspirants increase breast cancer risk? Get the breast cancer facts you need.

 

Chances are you’ve heard at least a few myths about what causes breast cancer or increases your breast cancer risk. A little myth-busting is in order so you can get your breast cancer facts straight.

Myth No. 1: Underwire Bras Cause Breast Cancer

“That’s absolutely untrue,” says breast surgical oncologist Kandace McGuire, MD, of the Breast Cancer Program of Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Dr. McGuire explains that this myth is based on an old theory that an underwire bra would reduce lymphatic drainage and increase breast cancer risk. “It was not based on any data whatsoever,” she says.

 

Until now. A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention in September 2014  is the first to use a rigorous scientific study design to investigate whether bra-wearing habits could affect breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. Among the factors researchers considered were bra type (including underwire) and daily or lifetime use of bras. Their conclusion: There’s no evidence linking bras to breast cancer risk.

 

So rest assured that constriction of your breasts, whether from an underwire bra or any kind of compression garment, does not affect your breast cancer risk.

Myth No. 2: Antiperspirants Cause Breast Cancer

“There have been no studies to suggest a link between antiperspirants and breast cancer,” says McGuire. There are two possible points of origin for this cancer myth:

  • Parabens. These chemical preservatives are used in some antiperspirants and some other products. They may increase estrogen levels, which is linked to breast cancer risk. But there is “no decisive link,” says McGuire. Check ingredient labels if you are concerned. Look for the ingredients methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben. However, most brands no longer include these ingredients.

  • Mammogram preparation. Antiperspirants contain some aluminum, which may show up on mammograms as a false-positive result. “One thing that is important for women to know is that when they go for their mammograms, they shouldn’t wear antiperspirants,” advises McGuire.

Overall, the National Cancer Institute does not advise limiting the use of antiperspirants, but does say more research is needed in this area.

Myth No. 3: Radiation From Screening Tests Causes Cancer

Although mammograms do give off a small amount of radiation, “the radiation dose in a mammogram is less than in a standard chest X-ray,” says McGuire. “It is such a low level that it wouldn’t increase breast cancer risk.” Women should also know that MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) and ultrasounds, which may also be used to screen for breast cancer in some women, contain no radiation at all.

Myth No. 4: Exposure to Air Causes Cancer to Spread

McGuire shares a myth she often hears from worried patients — cutting into a cancer and exposing it to air causes the cancer to spread. “That is untrue as well,” she stresses. Patients are naturally worried because cancer does have the potential to spread (called metastasis), but it is not caused by your cancer surgeon cutting into a tumor for a biopsy or to remove it.

Myth No. 5: You Have to Have a Family History to Get Cancer

“Women who don’t have a family history of breast cancer are surprised when they get breast cancer,” says McGuire. Family history is a well-established risk factor — so well-established that some women may believe it is the only risk factor, but it’s not. “Less than 10 percent of breast cancer patients get it because of a familial history,” she explains.

Myth No. 6: There’s Nothing You Can Do About an Inherited Risk

A strong family history is a cancer risk factor, but just because women in your family have had breast cancer does not mean you are destined to get it. Genetic testing will help you understand your inherited risk and allow you to make choices about your future care. Additionally, McGuire says that research shows that a low-fat diet combined with physical activity and moderate alcohol consumption (fewer than two drinks per day) reduces breast cancer risk. “If you have a family history, you should do everything that you can to decrease your risk,” she advises.

Myth No. 7: Breast Cancer Occurs Only in Older Women

“Increasing age is a risk factor for breast cancer, so the older you are the more likely you are to get breast cancer,” says McGuire. However, that doesn’t mean younger women aren’t vulnerable. Breast cancer can be diagnosed at any age. “It tends to be more aggressive in younger women,” she adds.

Myth No. 8: Plastic Surgery Causes Breast Cancer

The good news for women who want to enhance or reduce their bust size is that there is no link between breast plastic surgery and increased breast cancer risk. Implants can make mammograms more difficult, but they do not make cancer more likely. Women who have breast reduction surgery may actually see a decrease in breast cancer risk. “Getting a breast reduction can reduce your risk of breast cancer by about 60 percent, depending on how much they take,” says McGuire.

Myth No. 9: Double Mastectomy Prevents a Return of Breast Cancer

Removing a breast that has not had breast cancer does prevent breast cancer in that breast, but removing a breast that already has cancer still leaves you with a 3 to 4 percent risk of recurrence. “Your survival is based on the first cancer,” says McGuire, not on the removal of additional breast tissue.

Myth No. 10: Mammograms Aren’t Accurate Anyway, So Why Bother?

Recent controversy about the right time for women to begin having mammograms — whether they should begin at age 40 or age 50 — has left some women feeling the screening test may not be worthwhile.

Younger women often have denser breast tissue than older women, who have more fat tissue in the breast. “The denser your breasts are, the less accurate your mammogram is going to be,” acknowledges McGuire, but adds, “Having a bad mammogram is better than having none. It’s the only thing that we’ve shown thus far to reduce the mortality from breast cancer.”

Myth No. 11: Self-Exams Aren’t Necessary

Actually, the research is inconclusive on this question. “Most of the women that I talk to in the office are not doing self-exams. But there’s no downside — it’s cheap and easy to do,” says McGuire, who says that only good things can come from being familiar with the shape of your own breasts.

Myth No. 12: Abortion and Miscarriage Increase Breast Cancer Risk

While there is some evidence that having children before the age of 30 can reduce the risk of breast cancer, there is no research to support the idea that the early end of a pregnancy through miscarriage or abortion could increase breast cancer risk.

Armed with these facts — not myths — you will be better able to reduce your risk and plan your treatment if you develop breast cancer.

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