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Peter Cerruti
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
 Phone: 215-429-7273
Office Phone: 215-538-4400
Fax: 267-354-6992 
petecerruti@yahoo.com
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Peter Cerruti

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Top 10 Travel Insurance FAQs

May 4, 2013 10:46 am

With summer around the bend, many travelers will be heading out on much-needed vacations and should hopefully be seeking out travel insurance. Here is a list of the questions most commonly asked by travelers on the lookout.

1. Doesn’t my credit card have travel insurance?
No, not in the way most travelers want it to. Credit cards that have “travel insurance” provide little coverage, but nothing in comparison to a separate policy from a travel insurance company. Some cards provide cancellation coverage, but with an annual limit ($1,500-$2,500 per 12 month period), and the list of covered reasons is limited. Interruption coverage is limited as well, as is travel delay coverage. Most importantly though, is that almost no credit cards provide medical expense or evacuation coverage.

2. Won’t my regular health insurance cover me abroad?
Not completely. Most regular health insurance plans provide partial or no coverage while you are traveling in another country. For Medicare, there is never coverage abroad. Countries with “universal health care” might assist with minor needs, but they are under no obligation to do so. In the event of major or ongoing medical expenses, they would cease to help, and they would never pay to evacuate you or help you return home.

3. Will my cruise line refund me?
A little. It depends on when you cancel, but generally you won’t get much back. Most cruise companies have a declining refund schedule where they refund less and less the closer to the departure date, until they refund nothing at all. Generally within two weeks there is zero refund, and even canceling a month before will usually only get you a 25 percent refund.

4. Are hurricanes covered?
Yes, many plans cover hurricanes and weather under trip cancellation coverage. To be covered you need to 1) make sure it is listed as a covered reason, 2) buy before the storm is named, 3) insure for the full trip cost, and 4) some plans require that you buy soon after your trip payment to avoid the waiting period.

5. Are pre-existing conditions covered?
Yes, many plans offer a waiver that removes the pre-existing condition exclusion. To be covered you need to 1) buy your plan soon after your first trip payment, 2) insure for the full trip cost, 3) be medically cleared for travel at the time of purchase.

6. What does travel insurance cost?
Insurance costs 4-8 percent of the trip cost (pre-paid, non-refundable expenses). Basic plans can be very budget-minded at less than 4 percent, and premium vacation plans can be over 12 percent. Travel medical insurance is sold on a trip=length basis, and can be as little as dollars per day.

7. When should I purchase my plan?
Within days of making your initial trip deposit. There are many benefits to purchasing the plan sooner, including maximizing the period of cancellation coverage, and being eligible for pre-existing condition coverage and hurricane coverage.

8. How do I know I can trust the company?
The companies featured by Squaremouth.com are companies that have years of experience with solid AM Best ratings of financial stability, and they comply with a Zero Complaint Policy.

9. What is the refund policy?
A 100 percent refund of premium within the Free Look Period is guaranteed by all companies. This allows travelers to review their policy and return it for any reason within the time period (less a small administration fee $5-$8).

10. How do I buy travel insurance?
Travel insurance can be quoted and purchased instantly online using a credit card. Since travel insurance is a temporary insurance product, there is generally no underwriting period or medical examination required. You can get a quote online, buy with a credit card, print your email confirmation, and you’re all done.

Source: www.travelinsurancereview.net

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Reasons to Celebrate National Raisin Day

May 2, 2013 5:12 pm

Have you heard through the grapevine? National Raisin Day is tomorrow! As a delicious and naturally sweet addition to favorite recipes and snacks, California Raisins are an all-time classic in lunch boxes, gym bags and grocery carts across the nation. Here are 10 of our favorite reasons to love this all-natural, dried-by-the-sun, small – but mighty – fruit.

1. On-Screen Stars. How many wholesome, healthy snacks can claim an Emmy nomination? Introduced in 1984, the California Dancing Raisins starred in an Emmy-nominated 1989 TV special, Meet the Raisins. The dancing raisins were officially named: Ben Indasun, Justin X, Grape and Tiny Goodbite.

2. Fill Your Tank with the Good Stuff! California Raisins come by their sweetness naturally. Because raisins contain no added sugar, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food-A-Pedia website shows that a serving of the fruit contributes no empty calories.

3. California Dreamin'. California is the raisin capital of the world and almost all California Raisins are grown within a 60-mile radius of Fresno – in California's sun-drenched San Joaquin Valley.

4. Budget-Friendly Fruit. The USDA ranks raisins as the most economical dried fruit, making raisins the most budget-friendly dried fruit of them all.

5. Year-Round Goodness. Perfectly portable, California Raisins don't spoil, bruise or need refrigeration. They are available January – December and always ready to munch on as a travel snack or an on-the-go, naturally sweet treat.

6. Mighty Good for You. California Raisins are the small fruit with big nutrition. According to the nutrition facts label, a quarter cup serving of raisins has 9 percent of your daily value of fiber and potassium and 6 percent of your daily value of iron. Plus, just a quarter cup of raisins is a serving of fruit.

7. All-Natural Nibble. Their ingredient list says it all: raisins. California Raisins have no cholesterol, no fat and no added sugar.

8. Fruit-tastic! Raisins proudly carry the Produce for Better Health Foundation's Fruit & Veggies—More Matters logo because they are 100% fruit.

9. Heart Smart. Even sweeter news – a recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology's 61st Annual Scientific Session suggests eating raisins three times a day may significantly lower the mean value of post-meal systolic blood pressure among individuals with prehypertension when compared to consuming popular, pre-packaged non-fruit snacks.

10. All-Around Awesome. Last but not least, exceptionally versatile, California Raisins add delicious, one-of-a-kind flavor to both sweet and savory recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time too.

Source: www.loveyourraisins.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Americans Set Higher Standards for Their Communities

May 2, 2013 5:12 pm

Americans' expectations for their communities have risen and in some cases changed, according to findings released from the Y Community Snapshot. Respondents rate education and community involvement as increasingly vital to building and sustaining strong communities, a +7.4 and +4.8 percent change from 2012. The survey also found a 30 percent gap between what people say is most important in creating a strong community today and how satisfied they are with their own community's performance in those areas.

Y Community Snapshot participants ranked providing a safe environment for children as the top priority for a second consecutive year. Their local school systems were ranked as the second most important factor impacting their community's strength – up from fifth place last year. In addition, 64 percent of parents believe an educational achievement gap exists within their community, specifically as it relates to an individual's income, status or wealth.

The Y Community Snapshot, commissioned by YMCA of the USA (Y-USA), is a consumer survey measuring how Americans view quality of life in their communities nationwide. The survey is based on factors such as community member involvement, and the quality of a community's services ranging from education to promoting healthy lifestyles.

According to the survey, Americans are looking more to education to help improve the quality of life in their community. In fact, five of the top 10 most important community strength drivers focused on education and children. Forty percent of respondents believe that it's the responsibility of schools, colleges and other educational institutions to improve the quality of life across communities.

Additionally, the ability to offer employment opportunities and job training for teens and young adults jumped into the top 10 most important drivers for building a strong community, with an increase of more than 5 percent over last year.

Other key findings include:
  • Public education is the number one area respondents say they would allocate local tax dollars to in order to strengthen their community. Nearly half of parents (46 percent) rate their community's school system or child's school as average or below average in providing the resources, services, people and programs to help students who want or need additional or extra assistance, support and opportunity.
  • Three of four respondents (72 percent) feel the "educational achievement gap" reduces, limits or negatively impacts a young person's chances, opportunity or ability to succeed in adult life.
  • About three-fourths (72 percent) of parents say they currently use or have used some form of childcare (defined as "any service,” excluding personal babysitter, where someone else is caring for your children, including daycare).
  • Over 40 percent (43 percent) of parents who currently use or have used childcare rely upon before or after-school programs or daycare.
Source: YMCA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Demand for Pet Friendly Rentals on the Rise

May 2, 2013 5:12 pm

Findings from a recent Apartments.com survey reveal it is more likely renters could be living next door to a pet owner compared to recent years. This year, 75 percent of renters surveyed said they are pet owners, compared to 43 percent in 2012. These findings align with the improving U.S. economy, according to an American Veterinary Medical Association survey released last year; the difficult economy played a very strong role in the first decline in pet ownership since 1991.

Half of the pet-loving renters surveyed by Apartments.com would like to believe their fellow apartment residents also adore their four-legged companions. Fortunately, it turns out they are not far off, as nearly 60 percent of renters who do not own pets said they still enjoy living around others with pets.

While nearly 65 percent of the pet owners surveyed said they live in a two-bedroom apartment or larger, many indicated they were ambivalent to the size of their space when choosing a pet. In fact, more than 75 percent said the size of their apartment only played "some importance" to "no difference" when picking a pet. The five most popular apartment pets among the pet owners surveyed are:
  1. Cat: 45 percent
  2. Small dog: 38 percent
  3. Medium dog: 21 percent
  4. Large dog: 19 percent
  5. Fish: 6 percent
Budget-savvy renters should plan for costs associated with living with pets, as 63 percent of pet owners indicated they are required to pay a pet deposit. In fact, a majority spend more than $150 annually in deposits and/or monthly fees.

However, deposits and fees do not always cover every type of pet. Renters should be specific in clarifying what types of pets are allowed, as pet restrictions vary from one apartment building to another. In fact, only 28 percent of renters surveyed said they live in a building that has no restrictions on what type of pet they are allowed to have.

The survey also reveals nearly seven out of 10 respondents adopted their pet from a rescue or shelter. As part of this survey, Apartments.com committed to donating $1 for every survey response to North Shore Animal League America, the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization.

Source: Apartments.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Recognize and Understand Hidden Fees in Your 401(k)

May 2, 2013 5:12 pm

You wouldn’t authorize a company to dive into your checking account at will to withdraw money for undisclosed “services rendered,” right? But according to financial advisor Philip Rousseaux, that’s exactly what many Americans are unwittingly doing.

“While a new law now requires disclosure of previously hidden fees applied to 401(k) plans, it’s up to you, or your financial advisor, to find and review that information and determine whether the fees are reasonable,” says Rousseaux, founder and president of Everest Wealth Management, Inc.

By some estimates, up to 90 percent of fees attached to retirement plans are hidden. As of July 1, 2012, the new Department of Labor rule requires all hidden fees attached to retirement plans and mutual funds be disclosed to employers and employees.

Rousseaux offers these tips for examining and understanding retirement plan fees:
  • Trading fees: Trading fees apply to mutual funds, which generally comprise more than half of a 401(k). These previously undisclosed fees are brokerage commissions that are charged to the plan holder every time a fund is traded. The charge is a percentage of the fund’s value, usually ranging from less than 1 percent to less than 2 percent. In some cases, trading fees can double the cost of the transaction. “If your funds are being frequently traded, you may be spending quite a bit on trading fees – in addition to the other fees associated with managing the fund,” Rousseaux says. “If you can’t determine whether the trading fees are reasonable, you should consult with an independent financial advisor.”
  • Revenue sharing: These fees occur when mutual funds and other plan providers pay a third party for administrative services such as record-keeping, which the fund is expected to perform. These may be labeled “sub-transfer,” “agent/sub-TA” or “shareholder servicing” and they’re built into the plan’s expense ratio, so it’s not a double charge. Again, the idea is to review these charges and ensure they seem reasonable.
  • 12 b-1 fees: This term – named for the section in the regulation that allows for it – applies to marketing and distribution costs. They’re generally paid as commissions to brokers who service retirement plans and they also may be paid to non¬investment professionals such as record keepers or insurance companies. Most mutual funds have share classes that provide for varying revenue amounts from 12b-¬1 fees. Brokers and record-keepers have an incentive to use funds with 12b-¬1 fees and to share classes with higher 12b-¬1 fees because they make more money.
Rousseaux notes that it’s also important to look at the expense ration for your plan, which should now be stated in dollars under terms of the new Labor Department regulation.

“Generally, the lower the ratio, the bigger the fund will grow,” he says.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Get the House Ready for Guests in 20 Minutes or Less

May 2, 2013 5:12 pm

The spring and summer entertaining season has arrived. From Mother's Day brunches and Father's Day barbecues to bridal showers and graduation parties, people host an endless string of events in their homes during this time. However, busy schedules can often make it difficult to prepare for guests and give the house a thorough cleaning from top to bottom.

To help hosts get their homes in order, Bissell partnered with home and lifestyle expert Evette Rios to share quick and easy tips that will have a house guest-ready and fresh in no time.

Rios advises starting with the following tasks: do the dishes, make the bed, clear clutter, and vacuum and sweep high-traffic areas, like the kitchen and living room, to clear up dirt, crumbs and hair. Sprinkle some deodorizing powder on carpets, wait for a few minutes and vacuum as usual. Not only does the powder clean up to three times better than vacuuming alone, it also eliminates odors and leaves behind a light fresh scent.

"While these tasks may seem very small, they make a huge impact on the home's appearance and create a sense of order," Rios said. "It will give the impression that you've spent a lot of time and energy on chores when you've only used a few minutes of your day."

Everyday household items can also double as effective tools for cleaning and freshening. Old socks, pantyhose, cotton swabs and vanilla extract are just a few of the items that Rios cites as her must-haves when she needs to tidy up quickly. An old sock is great for dusting blinds; inexpensive pantyhose from the drug store wipe away residue that collects on decorative candles; and a cotton swab dipped in vinegar cleans hard-to-reach grime in window tracks.

"Some of these tips may seem unconventional, but they really work wonders," Rios said. "One of my favorite tricks to freshen a room is to put a few drops of vanilla extract on an unlit light bulb. When it's turned on, the bulb heats up the extract and lets off a delicious scent. Guests love that the house smells so sweet!"

Whether entertaining last-minute guests or planning an all-out party, hosts with the most will be able enjoy all their events when the stressful task of rigorous cleaning beforehand is made simpler.

Source: BISSELL

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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REALTORS Urge Preserving of Homeownership Tax Policies

May 2, 2013 5:12 pm

As Congress pursues comprehensive tax reform it should focus on doing no harm to housing and America’s 75 million homeowners by maintaining current tax laws for homeownership and real estate investment, the National Association of REALTORS® said.

NAR President Gary Thomas testified before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee concerning Federal tax provisions that affect residential real estate. Thomas said that homeownership has had long-standing support in the country because of its many benefits to individuals and families, communities and to the nation’s economy.

“REALTORS® know that homeownership is an investment in your future and for many people, owning a home helps them gain a foothold into the middle class,” said Thomas. “NAR remains committed to preserving the current tax measures for homeownership so that millions of Americans can continue to build the kind of financial security that owning a home can provide.”

In his testimony, Thomas said the current tax code contains housing-related provisions that help facilitate homeownership, build wealth for families and provide stability to communities. Altering these policies could marginalize current and future home buyers as well as jeopardize the nascent housing recovery and the overall economy.

Thomas urged specific support for maintaining the current deduction for home mortgage interest. The mortgage interest deduction helps many families become homeowners, which is the foundation for a healthy middle class, and it is vital to the health and stability of housing markets.

The mortgage interest deduction primarily benefits middle- and lower income families. Sixty five percent of families who claim the deduction earn less than $100,000 per year, and as a percentage of income, the biggest beneficiaries are younger middle-class families.

“The mortgage interest deduction makes sustainable homeownership more affordable for millions of middle-class families; these families are the nation’s backbone,” said Thomas. “Protecting these hard-working Americans should be Congress’ top priority as it pursues comprehensive tax reform. On behalf of our one million REALTOR® members and millions of homeowners, we urge Congress to do no harm to housing.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Real Estate Spending Trends - Grounds, Lawn and Landscape Care

May 2, 2013 5:12 pm

A new U.S. online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of PLANET, the national trade association of landscape industry professionals, shows that consumers are looking to increase spending on hardscapes (outdoor kitchens, patios, decks, water features, and walkways) and other specialized services (irrigation and lighting). Hardscaping is comprised of outdoor living spaces and paved, non-living components of a landscape.

The study surveyed 2,219 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,830 have a lawn or landscape. Consumers were asked about their spending on professional lawn and landscape services from lawn care and landscape maintenance to tree care, water features, and outdoor lighting.

Overall Spending Trends

While overall consumer spending is expected to remain steady in most categories, landscape maintenance (mowing, edging, leaf cleanup) will see a modest increase in spending ($700 on average in the coming year vs. $600 in the past year), while spending will increase to hire a professional for hardscapes and specialty services ($2,300 on average in the coming year vs. $1,680 in the past year).

“Despite the sluggish economy, our core landscape maintenance services are holding steady, while consumers are deciding to increase their investment in projects that encourage ‘staycations’ and outdoor entertaining, and ultimately improve the resale value of the home,” said PLANET CEO, Sabeena Hickman, CAE, CMP.

Who is spending the most on landscape services?

Men outpace women when it comes to hiring professional landscape help over the past year (39 percent vs. 32 percent), and younger adults, ages 18 to 34, stand out as most likely to have hired professionals for the building of outdoor living spaces, patios, and walkways over the past year (9 percent vs. 3 percent of those age 35+).

In general, 35 percent of those with a lawn/landscape have hired professionals to do lawn and landscape services over the past year, with those in the South (38 percent) and West (40 percent) being more likely to have hired a professional than those in the Midwest (29 percent.)

Why do consumers find value in hiring landscape services?

The most often cited reasons for hiring a professional for lawn/landscape services are as follows: “They don’t have the knowledge, skills or physical ability” (42 percent), and “they don’t have the right equipment” (42 percent) to do the landscape work themselves.

Interestingly, younger adults (18 to 34) were more likely than their older counterparts to say “don’t have the patience” as a reason to hire a professional.

“Eighteen to 34 year olds might be more digitally connected than their parents, but they are still putting a high priority on outdoor entertainment areas. They are looking to landscape professionals to take on work that is not only time-consuming, but also requires a high degree of expertise to be done well,” added Hickman.

Source: www.loveyourlandscape.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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More People Will Be Building with Recycled Building Materials This Spring

May 2, 2013 5:12 pm

Every spring, more and more people start home improvement projects. Good news for the earth: This spring, many of those people will be building with recycled building materials.

In a recent poll by Hometalk.com, 91 percent of respondents said that they had either used recycled building materials this year, or were planning to. You can see the growth in use of recycled building materials in these numbers:

• Consumption of composite lumber made from recycled plastics increased by 58 percent in recent years, according to Recycling Today.
• The primary market for recycled plastics is the composite lumber industry, according to The American Chemistry Council.
• According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, 88 percent of today's structural steel is made from recycled materials.
• The Harvard Graduate School of Design reports a sharp increase in the use of sustainable roofing materials.

While recycled lumber and composite decking lead the pack in popularity, other recycled building materials are seeing an increase in consumer demand. For instance, Hometalk.com member Brooks Custom, a fabricator of unique upscale counter tops, has expanded his line of counter tops to include recycled woods, metals, and concretes in order to meet customer demand for these materials.

"At Brooks we are experiencing an increased demand for Antique Chestnut and Southern Yellow Heart Pine from barn beams. These woods are very attractive and include lots of distress marks and imperfections. Our stainless steel countertops look crisp and new but steel is one of the most recycled metals in the world. Over 80 percent of waste steel is recycled and turned into new products, including countertops. Glass is another highly-recyclable material that has gained popularity, and we've seen an uptick in glass specialty tops," said Todd Costello.

"Many of the most popular projects on Hometalk.com are projects that incorporate recycled building materials. People seem to get extra enjoyment out of remodeling and building with these materials. I expect to see even more Hometalk.com members posting projects that involve recycled building materials as the spring remodeling season heats up," said Miriam Illions, Director of Community Development at Hometalk.com.

Source: Hometalk, LLC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Prevent House Fires and Boost Home Safety with a Few Key Tips

May 2, 2013 5:12 pm

Every year home electrical problems cause more than 28,000 house fires and massive property damage. Electrical wiring is the root cause of many of these fires, of which countless could have been prevented. To ensure electrical safety in your home, Constellation, an independent energy provider, is encouraging everyone to review key electrical safety tips.

Faulty or fixed wiring or improper use of electrical cords and other electrical items cause most home fires. Heed the following tips to maximize your home's safety:

• Pay Attention: Flickering lights, buzzing noises, and faceplates that are warm to the touch are all signs that a circuit may be overloaded or wiring may be wearing thin. Each one of those signs is cause for immediate attention from a licensed professional electrician.

• Listen to Your Breaker: If you are continually tripping a switch and having to reset your breaker box, your house is trying to tell you something. There may be a fixture with faulty wiring or too high an electrical load on the breaker. Again, seek professional help.

• Review and Replace: Frayed electrical cords, wobbly ceiling fans, and loose faceplates are more than mere annoyances. You should routinely inspect your home and replace or repair items in need of attention.

• Safety First: Even the best preparation and newest equipment is not a guaranteed protection against fire. Working smoke detectors on all levels of your home is an absolute must. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and you know the proper way to use it.

For more information and safety tips, visit www.esfi.org and www.constellation.com.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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