March 2019

Modern Homes Can Outsmart Disaster

The internet of things has taken home protection to the next level, empowering homeowners with new tools to keep their homes and loved ones safe. While homeowners might not be able to prevent every disaster, these innovative smart home features can reduce their risk.

Fire Alerts

Traditional smoke detectors are helpful for alerting residents to a fire. This is great if someone is home. What happens when no one is around to hear the alarm?
With smart fire detectors, the homeowner can receive an alert via a Wi-Fi-connected device anywhere in the world. This can decrease emergency response time, potentially reducing damage to the home.

Water Alerts

One of the most common homeowners insurance claims is water damage. Burst pipes and leaky appliances can cause extensive damage to a home. Smart leak-detection sensors can mitigate or even prevent these calamities. The sensor will alert homeowners immediately when a leak is detected, allowing them to take action to stop the water invasion.

Burglar Alerts

Smart technology has enhanced security measures on many fronts. Homeowners can keep tabs on their property by monitoring video surveillance from anywhere, deter thieves with timed lighting, and use smart door locks to maintain tighter security of their entryways.
Plus, affordable, wireless technology makes installing security systems easier than ever before.

Smart Devices

Technology is becoming so prevalent that there are few items that aren’t available with smart features these days.
Appliances offer improved safety and efficiency. Garage doors are better at detecting motion. High-tech irrigation systems can prevent overwatering and flooding. From attic to basement, homeowners can access a host of smart features to protect their homes and prevent insurance claims.
Don’t hesitate to reach out so you can learn more about how you can prevent disaster in your home. Be sure to ask about any discounts you may be eligible for if your home is equipped with smart technology.

Worth Quoting

This month, some famous quotes on memory.

No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.

Abraham Lincoln

Memory . . . is the diary that we all carry about with us.

Oscar Wilde

There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory.

Josh Billings

Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.

Tennessee Williams

Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.

Michel de Montaigne

Chicken, Artichoke & Lemon Braise

Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, rosemary, thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4.5 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts, drained and halved
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together oil, vinegar, broth, garlic, mustard, herbs, and pepper flakes. Place chicken in a rimmed 13 x 9 baking dish, season generously with salt and pepper, then pour the oil mixture over it. Marinate it here for up to 1 day or cook immediately. When ready to cook, arrange onions, artichokes, and lemon around chicken.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven, sprinkle with fresh parsley if using, and serve.

Memory Brain Training: From Sieve to Steel Trap

Some instances are easy to laugh off. Forgetting an appointment or misplacing one’s keys can be filed under “being forgetful.” But a leaky memory isn’t funny when those misplaced dates and items are of great importance, or when the forgetfulness becomes chronic.
Fortunately, there’s good news for sufferers of poor memory: it can get better. With the right techniques, it’s possible to train your brain and improve your memory. Try these tips:

Use imagery:
Memory athletes (yes, it’s a thing) use this trick to make words stick. Next time you’re trying to remember an important date or someone’s name, picture it as an over-the-top image. For example, imagine “April 20” exploding out of a confetti cannon.

Resist the urge to Google:
Anything we could ever want to know is just a couple of taps away. But constantly using a search engine to remember facts and figures that we’ve forgotten is making our brains lazy. Next time you’re stuck, wait it out and work your brain to remember.

Create a memory palace:
A memory palace is a real physical location or route that is familiar to you, where you can “store” words and dates to remember later. For example, if your memory palace is your jogging route and you want to remember your credit card numbers, you might imagine your Visa number scrawled on the bench you stretch on and your Mastercard number posted on the billboard you run past.

As with physical exercise, consistency is key. Practice recalling directions, phone numbers, and important dates in the shower or during your commute.

Where Will Technology Take Us Next?

Products like smartphones and voice-command speakers used to be the stuff of Jetsons-esque fantasies. Then they became reality and altered our world dramatically. So, what’s next? Here’s a roundup of the emerging technologies with the greatest potential to change our lives.

These aren’t just for taking Instagram-worthy aerial shots. Drones offer plenty of yet-to-be-fully realized potential. They’re being explored as tools for farm crop assessment, law enforcement, and disaster relief.

This technology is much more than cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. By facilitating the distribution of digital information without copying, blockchain can power all kinds of activities, from providing financial solutions to unbanked people to auditing supply chains around the world.

Artificial intelligence: Computers with human smarts get a lot of flak for the scary side of their potential. But there’s plenty of good stuff too, like an A.I.-powered system that analyzes a baby’s cry to instantly diagnose birth asphyxia, a top cause of infant mortality.

Driverless vehicles: Autonomous vehicles are already here. When they become widely available, they could help those who are underserved by public transportation, reduce the space needed for parking, and improve road safety.

Named after CRISPR DNA sequences (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), this DNA-altering technology can be used to precisely edit genetic information. While it received bad press after a Chinese scientist announced he had used it to create genetically edited babies, the tech has incredible potential for everything from healthcare to agriculture.

Good Words for Barbara’s Work

I am sending you this email to tell you how very satisfied I have been with your Agent Barbara Swanson in the Visalia, CA office. Ms Swanson was always easy to reach, knowledgeable, and personable. She has handled all of my issues with speed and professionalism. I recently moved out of California to Maryland so it was unfortunate that I had to find another insurance company. I was always very pleased with CIG and especially the fine customer service that Ms Swanson provided. She is a credit to your company.

Dorothy Parker

Is Your Home Riskier Than Your Neighbor’s?

Did you know two homes can have identical square footage but vastly different insurance costs? They might even be right next door to each other. How is this possible?

The cost of premiums is based on the risk factors of the homes. With vastly different features, the two properties don’t have the same likelihood of claims. What features influence this risk? Following are a few of the top factors.

Older homes often cost more to insure due to their construction. Features such as ornate moldings, stained glass windows, and plaster walls are typically more expensive to replace than are modern amenities, so insurance premiums reflect this. Other construction factors include the age of the electrical system and the type of exterior used.

If a home offers features that reduce the risk of fire, burglary, or other damage, the insurance costs go down. Smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, and security systems are examples of safety features that can reduce your homeowners insurance premiums.

Certain features can not only add appeal and ambiance to a home but also increase the cost of insuring the property. A swimming pool or spa, for example, can add fun and relaxation appeal, but it also increases a homeowner’s liability and requires additional coverage. A wood-burning stove can be charming, but it can be seen as a fire risk and increase your premium.

While a hamster probably won’t affect insurance premiums, a pit bull might. Homeowners insurance includes liability, which protects the property owners if they are sued by a person who is injured by the homeowner’s dog. If you own a dog, especially one whose breed is considered dangerous, you might pay more for insurance.

Remodeling projects typically increase the value of the home. A new addition, a finished basement, or an updated kitchen may require additional insurance to adequately cover the upgraded property.

If you’re considering purchasing a house or altering the features of your current home, consult with your insurance provider. They can provide premium estimates and offer further insight into how your choices would affect your insurance costs.

Ready, Set, Go: Streamlining Your Morning Routine

If you leave your house in an anxious mood, you could arrive at work in a frantic state. That’s why you need to use your mornings wisely.

Start before you go to bed. Choosing appropriate clothes, packing your bags, preparing your lunch, and making a list of the most important things to do the next day can mean there are fewer decisions to make in the morning. This can save time.

You should also avoid using your phone as your alarm clock. Notifications during the night can disturb your sleep. Plus, waking up to emails and messages can be stressful, and you’re likely to jump right into these if your phone is your alarm. You don’t want to send important messages before you’re coherent. Plus, responding to messages takes time and can cause you to be late. Your messages will still be there when you get to the office. Read them when you’re settled in there.

Another tested trick is to set your clocks ahead. This can get you out the door faster and potentially keep traffic delays from slowing you down. Of course, this only works if you don’t use this extra time as an excuse to dawdle or check your emails.

You can also choose your morning beverages and meals strategically. Drink water first. It will rehydrate you and help make you alert for the day. If you do need a morning coffee, consider investing in a timed coffee maker that starts making your coffee for you. This will allow you to accomplish other tasks. Remember, keep your routine simple so you won’t forget what you need to do.