Good for You

It is the Month of the Heart ~ What’s the State of Yours?

Posted on February 21, 2012. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , |

February is American Heart Month. Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for BOTH men and women? An estimated 630,000 people in the US will die from heart disease and its associated complications in this year alone. You may think you’re safe because you are young. But, heart disease is now the third leading cause of death in women aged 25 to 44.

Signs and symptoms to watch for include:

  • Discomfort in the center of your chest.
  • Discomfort in other areas of your upper body, including: arms, back, neck, jaw or abdomen.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweats, nausea, and/or light-headedness, especially when combined with any of the above symptoms.
The absolute best way to keep your heart healthy is through a healthy diet and regular exercise. For an overview of the top 24 heart-healthy foods, click here.

It is also vital that you get an annual physical. Be your own advocate and talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may have. With health reform, many health insurance policies now include annual preventative care covered 100% by the insurance company. If you live in Texas and need insurance, contact us.

Here’s to your heart’s health!

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Get Deals, Not Steals: Tips for Shopping Safely Online

Posted on December 9, 2011. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Thanksgiving is over, and the holidays are in full swing, which means stores and malls are bustling with holiday shoppers looking for presents to put under the tree. While some people enjoy the adventure of going from store to store in search of that perfect gift, others seek refuge from the holiday crowds by buying their gifts online.

While shopping online can be a less stressful and often money-saving alternative, the convenience of shopping from the comfort of your home comes with some risks. Cyber attackers and scammers are just waiting to prey on those who don’t properly protect their personal information, such as credit and debit card numbers and bank account information.

If you’re planning to be one of the millions of people who shop online this holiday season avoid the holiday blues by following these cyber shopping safety tips.

  • Shop only on secure websites. To determine if a site is safe, look at the address box for an “s” in https:// and check the lower right corner of the page for a lock symbol. Both of these things indicate that a site is safe to use for purchases. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) for information about a company’s reputation and customer satisfaction rating.
  • Use credit, not debit. Credit cards provide additional protection from theft that many debit cards don’t offer. If your credit card information is stolen, you’re only responsible for up to $50 in charges as long as you report the theft within 30 days (reporting time varies by company). If your debit card is stolen, a thief can empty your bank account without your knowledge and it can take a substantial amount of time to recover the stolen money.
  • Protect your personal information. Make sure your computer has the most up-to-date spam filters, anti-virus software, and anti-spyware installed to avoid unauthorized access to your computer. You should also read a site’s privacy policy thoroughly before making a purchase to ensure the information you’re providing is secure and won’t be sold to a third-party.
  • Keep track of your receipts and credit card statements. When you make a purchase online, save the receipt and a copy of the confirmation page for your records. Check this documentation against your credit card statements to make sure there aren’t any suspicious or unauthorized transactions. Keeping proof of a purchase also helps resolve any issues that may arise with the order.
  • Do your online shopping at home. Don’t use unsecured Internet connections available in many coffee shops, libraries, and other public places where your information is not secure. Also, avoid using public computers for online shopping since you don’t have control over the computer’s spyware or malware software.

If your credit card or personal information is stolen, your homeowner’s policy may cover your liability. Check with your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent to find out if you’re protected from this type of loss or if you have any other questions regarding your policy.

Printed with permission by Trusted Choice®.

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Battling Holiday Stress and Depression

Posted on November 29, 2011. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The holiday season is now in full swing. And, while this is a time full of happiness, cheer and fellowship for most, for some it is the most stressful time of the year. With the whirlwind of added demands, such as parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, good emotions can quickly turn into stress and sadness. Add to that an injured economy, and many are feeling extraordinary budgetary pressures this year.

The Mayo Foundation and Mental Health America suggest the following ideas to help lift the weight of holiday stress:


  • Keep your holiday expectations in check.
  • Focus on today, and leave the past behind.
  • Do something for somone else.
  • Monitor your alcohol intake; too much can worsen depression.
  • Surround yourself with people who are caring and supportive.
  • Take some time for yourself.

If you are feeling “SAD,” you may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which typically happens when the days are shorter and the sun is not out as long each day. To combat the effects, spend time outside when the weather is nice and work out regularly.

If you focus on taking care of yourself, you will naturally ease the stress and lift your mood, so you can enjoy the holiday season and its many blessings.

For more information on healthy and green living, visit our website.

(Adapted from: BCBS of Texas “News from the Blues”)

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Avoid Packing on the Holiday Pounds

Posted on November 11, 2011. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

“The average adult consumes 3,000 calories and 229 g of fat in one Thanksgiving meal, reports the American Council on Exercise. A 160-pound person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk 30 miles to burn off a 3,000-calorie Thanksgiving Day meal. Furthermore, that figure swells to 4,500 calories when the entire day’s feasting is considered.” (Livestrong.com, “How Many Calories Does the Average American Consume on Thanksgiving?”)

A time for celebrating family and fellowship, Thanksgiving is the official beginning of the holiday season each year. It can also easily become an excuse for many of us to overindulge in both food and drink. From the appetizers, game day snacks, Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, and extra helpings of dessert, it is no wonder many of us pack on a few extra pounds each year at this time. But, there are healthy ways to enjoy the holidays, without impacting your waist line.

First, don’t criminalize the food being served. But, do plan what you are going to eat. It is fine to try a little of everything . . . key word being “little.” Rather than a full serving of every dish, treat yourself to a taste or two of each. Use a smaller plate, to help you dish up smaller servings.

Second, don’t rush back for seconds. Allow your food to settle for at least 15 to 20 minutes. This will give your stomach time to register what you’ve already eaten, and to communicate to your brain whether or not you are actually still hungry.

Third, don’t sample every dessert. Choose your favorite and have one small serving. Or, better yet, prepare a lighter version of a yummy treat so that you can easily avoid the heavier, calorie packed offerings.

Fourth, don’t take that nap when you finish eating. The tryptophan in the turkey may be singing you to sleep, but your best option is a brisk walk after your food has had time to settle. Fresh air and some activity will help your body burn up those calories faster.

Fifth, skip the late night snacks. Save the turkey sandwiches for lunchtime. And, if you just have to have another piece of pie, eat it for breakfast instead of at midnight.

Follow these helpful tips and you really can have your cake and eat it too!

For more healthy living tips that are good for you, visit our website’s educational resources: Keystone Insurance Services Resources.

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Wildfire Safety & Support

Posted on September 6, 2011. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , , |

If you are on the edge of your seat because of the wildfires raging across Central Texas, you are not alone. The impact is staggering and heartbreaking. We encourage anyone who has not been displaced to get involved, in whatever way(s) you are able. We have listed below a few of the organizations accepting donations and with active ongoing support activities, along with information for individuals affected by the fires. We also want to share some wildfire safety information with you. For a comprehensive guide, including helpful checklists, click here.

For those affected:
Victim Hotline (ADRN): 512.331.2600
Shelter Space (Oasis Church): 512.775.8277
Bastrop Fire Information Line (CenTex Red Cross): 512.332.8814 OR 512.332.8856
Pedernales One Fire (CenTex Red Cross): 512.753.2180
Central Texas Red Cross

For those wishing to help:
Austin Disaster Relief Network
American Red Cross of Central Texas
Hill Country Bible Church NW
Austin Christian Fellowship

Donation Items Needed:
NEW Socks/Underwear (children, men and women)
Coloring Books and Children’s Games
NEW Stuffed Animals
Packaged Snacks (peanut butter crackers, trail mix, etc.)
Bottled Gatorade and Water
Nasal Spray, Eye Drops, and Hand Wipes (for rescue personnel)

Stay safe everyone!

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Relay for Life benefiting ACS of Central Texas

Posted on February 23, 2011. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Relay for Life benefiting ACS of Central Texas. This is a great way to get involved in the fight against cancer. And, all it takes is a click!

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Debunking Insurance Myths!

Posted on January 6, 2011. Filed under: Good for You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Who wants to think about insurance at the beginning of a new year?  But just like those resolutions, now is the perfect time. Whether you are revamping your diet, your budget, or your goals for the coming year, we all know change is sometimes necessary. One thing you may need to change is the way you view insurance. There are a lot of misconceptions about the different kinds of insurance, who needs it, who provides it, and the best ways to shop for it. So, to get you started, we are “debunking” some of the top myths about insurance.

Myth #1: All agents are the same. Just because two agents sell the same kind of insurance, does not mean they offer the same levels of coverage. No two insurance companies sell the exact same policy. The only way to be confident you are purchasing adequate coverage, is by taking the time to help an agent fully understand your needs so they can work to find a policy that best meets them. There is also a big difference between a captive agent and an independent agent. Captive agents only have access to policies and coverages provided by the company for which they work (ex. State Farm, Allstate, etc.). Whereas, independent agents are appointed with multiple insurance companies and are able to comparison shop for their clients.

Myth #2: I will pay more for my insurance if I use an Independent Agent. Independent agents are paid commission by the insurance companies with which they are appointed. However, consumers will find the premiums to be the same whether they purchase insurance through an independent agent, or from the insurance company directly, if possible. Additionally, the services provided by independent agents are typically free to the individual and small business consumer, for coverages such as individual health insurance, life insurance, small group health insurance, homeowners insurance and auto insurance. In those instances when fees are charged, they must be disclosed to consumers.

Myth #3: I’m young and healthy, so I don’t need health insurance. Health insurance is easily obtainable and much less expensive if first purchased when you are young and healthy. If you become ill, without access to group insurance, you may not be eligible for individual health insurance OR may find your illness excluded from coverage when you apply. Purchasing health insurance after you become ill is like trying to buy auto insurance after you have an accident.  Even though the Healthcare Reform Act is designed to lessen these difficulties, many of the changes won’t take effect until 2014. If you are covered by group insurance, and lose those benefits, it is also important to identify creditable individual insurance in order to maintain your coverage. It is also true that individuals covered by health insurance are more likely to pursue preventative health care services, which can minimize the possibility of health problems later in life.

Myth #4: I’m a safe driver, so I only need minimum limits on my auto insurance. Accidents happen, even to the safest and most cautious people. And, the one thing that is true about all accidents is we can’t pick when, where, or how they happen. Liability insurance pays for damages you cause to another’s property or bodily injury. If they drive a “beater” that isn’t worth more than $1,000 and no one is injured, you might do just fine with minimum limits. But, if the person you hit drives a brand new Mercedes and it’s totalled or multiple cars are involved, it’s a pretty safe bet that minimum limits are not going to provide adequate insurance. In this case, they may seek your personal possessions for compensation. It is also important to consider the type of vehicle you drive. A super cab pickup truck has the potential to cause A LOT more damage than a Smart Car.

Myth #5: My wife is a stay-at-home mom, we don’t need life insurance on her. Maybe you can afford to pay for the services required to replace all that your wife does around the house. But, before you simply decide not to investigate the cost of life insurance, we recommend you think about the services you might need should something happen to your spouse. If you have young children, they could include a cook, housekeeper, nanny, after school care, daycare and more. A life insurance policy won’t replace the one lost, but it can simplify and ease both the decisions and change associated with unexpected loss. One more thing to think about is the cost of life insurance. Like health insurance, you will get the most bang for your buck when you are young and healthy. Health conditions and family history can significantly impact both your premiums and eligibility for life insurance.

Myth #6: My kids are too young for life insurance, they can buy it later. There are multiple benefits to buying life insurance for your children, even while they are still infants. Whole life insurance is extremely inexpensive when purchased for an infant or young child. And, it provides a savings benefit which can be used to offset the cost of college or other expenses. Most whole life polices can also be converted to term life insurance later in life. This is especially beneficial if your child develops a health condition later in life that would make them otherwise ineligible for coverage. And, while no one wants to think about the worst happening, some children are victims of accidents and illness. The death benefit of a life insurance policy can ease potential financial burdens caused by unexpected burial expenses.

Myth #7: I have both homeowners and auto insurance. I don’t need an umbrella policy. In today’s highly litigious society, it is very likely that a lawsuit for damages will accompany an insurance claim when serious bodily injury is involved. Let’s say you caused a car accident that leaves someone paralyzed, your auto insurance will only cover damages up to your maximum liability and defense limits. An umbrella policy can provide additional coverage for the excess amounts, including legal fees and court awarded damages. For the type of protection provided, umbrella insurance is inexpensive to maintain.

Myth #8: I don’t need flood insurance. Your property insurance policies do not cover losses due to flood. If it rains where you live, flooding IS possible. Even without a nearby river, creek or lake, rain falling fast enough and long enough, can cause the ground to become saturated and lead to local flooding. We saw rains like this in Austin and surrounding areas during 2010. Homeowners, in areas that had never flooded, were surprised by water levels up to the eaves of their homes. There are also other factors that can affect the risk of flooding, including nearby construction, community development, and even clogged drainage systems. Like umbrella insurance, flood insurance is inexpensive; the damages caused by flooding are not.

Myth #9: I only have a small at-home business, so business insurance doesn’t really apply to my situation. This simply is not true, as home insurance does not cover your business pursuits. The vast majority of homeowner’s policies exclude, or severly limit, liabilities due to business conducted in the home. In addition, business property (computers, inventory, etc.) will also be excluded or limited by your homeowners insurance. The coverage required to adequately insure your at-home business may vary widely, depending upon the type of service and/or product you offer. Your agent will help you determine the best type of insurance for your needs.

Myth #10: I have life insurance, so I don’t need disability insurance. Life insurance benefits will be available to your beneficiaries in the event of your death, but what if you are injured and unable to work. Even if you have a Whole Life policy, which you can borrow against, you have to pay it back or risk losing some or all of your death benefit. Disability insurance, on the other hand, provides replacement income in just such an instance. And, if you think it can’t happen to you, think again. Three out of every ten Americans (under the age of 65) will suffer a disability lasting 3 months or longer. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans will be disabled for one year or more during their working years. Top that off with the staggering statistic that 70% of working Americans wouldn’t make it 1 month before suffering financial difficulties. And, more than 1 in 4 Americans wouldn’t make it a week. (Statistics provided by The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, 2008)

If you found yourself or your life situation anywhere in the myths above, we recommend you contact your agent, or us, to review your current insurance policies and identify potential gaps in coverage. If you live in Austin, or anywhere in Texas, and need an agent, please give us a call.

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