Now's The Time To Protect Your Data

Most of us have learned the lesson of backing up our computer data the hard way – by losing precious information or photos that can never be replaced. And even then, we can be backsliding despite our best intentions.

Well, here’s your chance to make a new resolution: March 31 is World Backup Day. It’s an independent initiative started by a group of computer enthusiasts a few years ago and now supported by all the big storage equipment manufacturers.

The hard truth though is that you’ll likely only successfully back up your data if you automate the task – set it and forget it, as they say.
There are plenty of programs, paid-for and free, that will do this job for you. You’ll also find that several organizations and firms involved in the backup business post special offers on (Click on the “Deals” tab).

One additional important point: Even if you back up regularly, you need to check the backups every now and then to make sure they’ve been correctly done. You should also ensure you save a copy of your backup away from your house – give it to a trusted friend or relative or put it in a deposit box in the bank.

Why You Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage

To drive legally in the state of Texas, you have to have a minimum of liability insurance, covering others’ property and expenses if you cause an accident. Whether the state minimums are adequate is a topic for another blog post, but today we’re going to look at what happens if you’re in an accident caused by someone else who happens not to be carrying liability insurance.

If all you have is state liability, no comprehensive or collision, and someone who is uninsured hits you, it is likely that you will have to pay for all expenses (auto repairs, medical costs, towing, etc.) out of pocket. Yes, your insurance company will try to collect from the liable party, but the odds of ever recouping the costs is small.

If you have comprehensive and collision, you may choose to file a claim and only have to pay the deductible, but then it could count against you and might eventually cause an increase in premium.

Uninsured motorist coverage is available to protect you from either of these situations. Uninsured motorist coverage typically has a deductible of only $250, usually less than the standard comprehensive/collision deductible.

Other reasons uninsured motorist coverage is a good idea:

1) Nationally, 14% of drivers are uninsured. In some states, it’s as high as 26%, which means that if you’re in an accident, your odds are 1 in 4 that it will be with an uninsured motorist.

2) Compared to liability and physical damage coverage, Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist coverage is inexpensive.

3) Uninsured Motorist coverage is broad and includes injuries to your and your family members whether you are in your own covered auto, in automobiles you do not own, and even if you’re injured as a pedestrian.

4) Because the coverage is for uninsured AND under-insured motorists, if you’re in an accident with someone who has state minimums that don’t cover all of the damages or medical expenses you sustain in the accident, this coverage can make up the difference to the limits of your coverage.

Contact our office and we’ll be happy to provide a no-obligation quote for adding Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist coverage to your automobile insurance policy.

New Insights On Sunshine Vitamin Role

Deficiency of Vitamin D, the key nutrient we mainly get via sunshine, may not be the culprit it’s long been suspected as a cause or contributor to diseases like diabetes and cancer. Instead, low levels of the vitamin may actually be a symptom of the disease, according to the findings of a study in France. Vitamin D is made by the body in response to the sun, but it’s also found in food such as egg yolks and fatty fish, as well as supplements. The study showed that adding the supplement to the diet of sick people made no noticeable difference in the treatment of diseases. However, Vitamin D was found to have a preventive role in reducing the risk of heart problems, diabetes and colon cancer. It also reduced the risk of dying from any cause in older people taking 800 international units (IUs) a day. Learn more about Vitamin D here:

What To Do About Lead Paint In Your Pre-1978 Home

Since it was legislated against almost 35 years ago, you may think that lead in paint isn’t much of an issue today. Not so. Lawsuits against paint companies abound, and millions of homes built before 1978 may still have lead paint, which is known to be harmful to children.

However, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that lead-based paint is not harmful if it’s in good condition. But how do you know that?

The only reliable way is to get a professional test from a certified specialist – either an inspection or risk assessment.

The EPA says you should test for lead if your house was built before 1978 and there are children age 6 or younger in the home. You should also test if you’re about to remodel, renovate or repaint, if you’re about to rent or buy an older home, or if you’re selling one (since seller disclosure is required).

Depending on the outcome of the report, you will have to decide if you need to take action to make your home safe. In very limited circumstances you may be able to tackle certain indoor removals yourself but really you should hire a certified contractor to do the work. To learn more, download this useful guide from the EPA:

Combat Allergens That Lurk At Home

Forty million Americans suffer from allergies. And while most of us tend to think of seasonal sneezes caused by pollen, the fact is that many allergens lurk in our homes and even, potentially, on our dinner plates, all year round. So, on the threshold of spring allergies season, let’s go indoors to spot some of the problems and identify what can be done about them.

While symptoms are generally mild but frustrating – like a runny nose, itchy eyes or a rash, the American Institute for Preventive Medicine says that some allergic reactions can be life threatening. And, as all sufferers know, there’s no real cure for allergies. We might be able to ease the symptoms somewhat, but the best thing we can do is take steps to eliminate the hazards.

Most of the problems and solutions are to be found in the bedroom, so the Institute advises us:

  • Don’t store items under the bed – they collect dust. And remove books and clutter that attract mold spores.
  • Wash pillows and blankets every two weeks and use non-allergenic coverings on mattresses and pillows.
  • Vacuum your mattress frequently, even with these coverings on, to remove dust mites.
  • Make your bedroom off-limits to pets and don’t use feather pillows.

Elsewhere in the house:

  • Replace carpet with wood flooring and linoleum if possible.
  • Don’t use heavy drapes or venetian blinds.
  • Remove houseplants – they drop pollen and the moist dirt attracts mold.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with an airtight dust container or bag — not a paper bag that recycles the air it sucks in.
  • Avoid using aerosol based cleaning agents – they’re easily inhaled. Dyes and chemical additives can also spark a reaction.
  • If you child has allergies, make sure you tell the school. And if anyone in your family, including yourself, is prone to severe allergic reactions, use a medical identity bracelet to alert others who may be involved in helping or treating you/them.


Warning Signs Of Elder Abuse

Every year, hundreds of thousands of older people become victims of an insidious crime that can rob them of their dignity, their health and their wealth. It’s becoming so widespread, the crime has its own name – elder abuse – and various government and consumer groups have intervened to try to put a stop to it.

If you have older people among your family and friends (even if you’re an older person yourself), here are the warning signs to look out for in others:

  • Physical signs like bruises, burns, or broken bones.
  • A sudden change of attitude. The person may seem withdrawn or even depressed.
  • Sudden changes in their financial situation.
  • Strained relationships with caregivers.
  • Unattended medical needs and poor personal hygiene.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • There may also be a reluctance to talk about any abnormalities you notice, especially if the abuse is coming from a spouse or other relative –look out for signs of belittling, threats and use of control.

If you suspect abuse and believe the victim (including yourself) is in immediate danger, the US Administration on Aging says you should call 911 or local police for help.

If the danger is not immediate, discuss it with a doctor, friend or family member. You can also report it to the state Adult Protective Services (APS) agency via the National Center on Elder Abuse at: or call 1-800-677-1116, where trained operators will refer you for local support.

If you or someone you know are a victim of abuse in a care or nursing facility, you might also contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman on 202-332-2275.

Finally, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has launched a new financial resource tool to help older adults protect themselves against identity theft, called Smart Money for Older Adults. It consists of a series of downloadable resources for seniors and instructors. For more information, visit: