Handling holiday stress

Christmas less stress

We all become stressed around the holidays, there is just no way to avoid it.  We all dream about that perfect holiday, you know the one where your home is meticulous, your decorations are perfect, the dinner is exquisite, and your children are well behaved and happy with all of their gifts.  That dream never quite seems to become a reality does it?  At one point you will notice that your dog has tracked something suspiciously stinky onto the living room carpet, your cat will knock down the tree, your stuffing will burn, and your kids will play with the boxes instead of the gifts you so thoughtfully picked out for them.  The idea of a perfect holiday is nothing more than a fantasy so why do we get so stressed out?

When the holiday season rolls around we all become stressed over things, there just doesn’t seem to be a way to escape it.  We stress about gaining weight, keeping on budget, choosing the perfect gift, holiday parties, decorating, and gift giving.  What can we do to “insure” we have a stress-free holiday season?

  • Take time for yourself.  Even if you can only squeeze in ten minutes of alone time make sure you take it!
  • Get some exercise.  Take the stairs or purposely park far away from the grocery store or mall if you can’t make it to the gym.
  • Limit holiday calories.  Or just ignore them until January 2, 2016.
  • Stop trying to please everyone.  You are not all things to all people.
  • Create a holiday budget and stick to it, this is easier said than done.

Hudson Valley Agents cannot “insure” that these tips will help you reduce your holiday stress, but we can insure all of your big ticket holiday gifts!  The holidays are stressful enough without having to worry about your insurance, that’s why Hudson Valley Agents is the Hudson Valley’s best independent insurance agency!  Remember that the deadline for open enrollment for health insurance is December 15th, call us today!

My health insurance headache

health ins head ache

Open enrollment for Medicare ends on December 7th and if you have yet to sign up for a health insurance plan you need to do so.  I had to procure a supplement to my Medicare plan and to try to choose one gave me the worst headache of my adult life.  I spent hours, yes, literally hours, combing the internet and the health exchange website for a health insurance plan that would fit my needs and then a lightbulb went off, I blog for the best independent insurance agency in the Hudson Valley, why was I trying to do find health insurance by myself?

I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 673-5515, Dave Sr picked up on the second ring, and I made my appointment.  He took his time going over each and every aspect of the plans that I could afford.  Dave Sr also took the time to research one particular health insurance company simply because he was unfamiliar with their reputation.  I had a lot of questions, and he answered them patiently and concisely.  I left the office with a headache that was only slightly less painful than the night before but at least I now had a health insurance plan.

Choosing the right health insurance plan is tremendously important, the wrong choice could leave you with piles of medical bills, the right one will give you peace of mind.  Do not attempt to make this important decision without the help of a trained professional!  Call 673-5515 and let Dave Sr assist with all of your health insurance needs.

 

Thanksgiving can be dangerous!

HVA thanksgiving can be dangerous

Howdy Hudson Valley!  There are only 8 more days until we head over the river and through the woods for a Thanksgiving feast and we had better be on our guard all day long.  Thanksgiving can be a dangerous day and we aren’t just referring to the damage it does to our waistlines!

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days for fire departments due to all of the kitchen and turkey fryer fires.  The kitchen fires I can understand, too many things on the stove, family and friends ringing the door bell, little one’s running around, and before you know it you’ve burned the gravy and the kitchen curtains too.  I can still remember the year my mother melted all of her Tupperware because she forgot to take it out of the oven (we had a small kitchen & used the oven for storage) before preheating it for the turkey.  I’m way too afraid of bubbling vats of hot oil to even consider frying a turkey so I’ll never understand just how one could possibly catch on fire.  Thankfully the smart folks at the Red Cross have a helpful video with turkey fryer safety tips –

 

Thanksgiving day is also a pretty deadly day for driving too, according to AAA almost 47 million people will be traveling on Thanksgiving day and not everyone will be flying, most will be driving.  Rushing to get to Aunt Agnes’s house before Uncle Dan eats all of the skin off of the turkey probably isn’t such a great idea.  And that third glass of Aunt Judy’s homemade dandelion wine before you make that two-hour drive home isn’t any better.

Those of us who believe in eating, drinking, and making merry on Thanksgiving could be increasing our risk of a Thanksgiving heart attack.  We stuff our faces, indulge (over) in wine and spirits, and in between all of that we argue about politics and football.  It is no wonder that the risk of having a heart attack increases exponentially on Thanksgiving day.

I learned a very important lesson while researching items for today’s blog post and that lesson is this – I have my homeowners, car and health insurance through Hudson Valley Agents so I’m prepared for anything!

 

November is Diabetes Awareness month

Nov Diab Aware

November is Diabetes Awareness month and since 29 million people in the US have either Type 2 or Type 1 diabetes this is really something we should talk about. Not sure what diabetes is? Click here to find out. Do you love someone with diabetes and wonder how this could effect you? Read on and find out –

Many of us either know someone with diabetes or have it ourselves. It has become so common that many of us don’t even think it is a serious illness. Make no mistake, diabetes can be very, very serious and we need to be more aware of how it effects our lives and the lives of those we interact with. Did you know that when a diabetic’s sugar spikes or drops the first thing you might notice is that they’ve become nasty and argumentative? These drops and spikes in a diabetic’s insulin levels can still be within their normal ranges but since the spike or drop has happened so suddenly it has a negative impact on the diabetic in question. Whenever my significant other comes home cranky and out of sorts my first question is – “What have you had to eat today and when was your last meal?’ I’m one of the lucky few who’s partner is aware of how his insulin level can negatively impact his mood and attitude.

Diabetes could also have a negative impact on your ability to drive a car. Low blood sugar can bring on blurred vision, slurred speech, and loss of coordination, these are all the same things that someone who is driving a car while intoxicated has to deal with. Scary stuff. How can a police officer know if the person they just pulled over is a diabetic or driving under the influence?! This is just one of the many reasons a diabetic must be responsible about what and when they eat as well as testing their blood sugar and sticking to a medication schedule.

Diabetes is not a death sentence and in some instances Type 2 diabetes can even be reversed. Understanding what diabetes is and following your doctor’s instructions is so important, learning what foods to avoid and how to cook for this disease factors into the mix as well. Dlife.com is a great site for diabetic recipes and meal planning.

Learning more about how diabetes impacts you and your family is the first step towards raising your own awareness of this disease. Once you know what you are dealing with there are sources to help you cope. Donations to help find a cure for diabetes can be sent to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.

Health Insurance Open Enrollment

HVA health ins enroll

Today we are talking about Health Insurance. No one and I mean no one who is on medicare or medicaid can figure out which plan will work best for them and their health needs on their own. I know this because I sat down with Dave Sr yesterday to discuss the upcoming health insurance open enrollment for 2016. I was amazed and overwhelmed by the amount of information that is needed to make the best choice of health insurance plans and if I’m feeling this way after speaking to a professional I cannot image what people who are attempting to go it alone are feeling!

Open enrollment for health insurance starts on November 1st and ends on January 31st this should give you ample time to schedule a sit down with Dave Sr in HVA’s Middletown office. Remember, choosing a health insurance plan is not just about being able to afford the monthly premiums, you also have to be able to afford your office visits and prescriptions too. Choosing a plan simply because it has a lower monthly cost can leave you with large out of pocket expenses! This is just one of the reasons you need a professional’s help to guide you. Dave Sr has taken all of the classes and passed all of the tests needed to be your personal health insurance Sherpa and believe me when I tell you that you are going to need one!

Choosing a health insurance plan is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make for 2016. Make sure you don’t go it alone, let the health insurance professionals at Hudson Valley Agents help guide you through to the best choice for you and your family. Call our Middletown office (845- 673-5515) today for a healthier 2016.

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month!

HVA adopt a shelter dog

Hey Hudson Valley, did you know that October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month? October isn’t just about Halloween and Trick or Treating it’s also about adopting your new best friend. Shelter dogs make the best pets and you really need one (or two) to keep you warm during the harsh Hudson Valley winters.

Shelters are stretched to their limits during the colder months and finding good homes for the unfortunate dogs that they house is a top priority. Many of these abandoned dogs are already housebroken and know a few basic obedience commands such as “sit” or “stay”. The dogs (and cats) who reside in our local shelters need your help in order to survive and thrive and you can make a huge difference in their lives by adopting, volunteering, or donating your old blankets and towels.

Shelter dogs who find their forever homes are eternally grateful. They remember just how bad their lives were and they show their gratitude every day. Adopting a shelter dog isn’t just a good thing for the dog it’s good for you too! Adopting a shelter dog helps you live a long and happy life by increasing your exercise and lowering your blood pressure. A healthier you could mean lower health insurance and life insurance premiums too!

Is the fear of having your renters insurance or homeowners insurance canceled keeping you from adopting a shelter dog? Hudson Valley Agents can help with that! We work with many insurance companies who’s “bad dog list” is much shorter than other insurance companies.

There are many wonderful shelters in the Hudson Valley but there are three that really go above and beyond in order to find the best homes for their canine charges. The Dutchess County SPCA, the Ulster County SPCA, and the Hudson Valley SPCA. Visit them, make a donation, and adopt a shelter dog today!

Taxes and Insurance

taxes and insurance

There are two things that every single adult in the Hudson Valley have in common – insurance and taxes. We all have to pay state and federal taxes and we all have to have (at least) health insurance and car insurance. Taxes and insurance are the two great equalizers.

Everyone looks for ways to save money on their insurance. Homeowners insurance, car insurance, health insurance, and life insurance are the the four biggies but there are always ways to save money without sacrificing coverage:

  • Insure your car and your home with the same company
  • Increase your deductible
  • Use an independent insurance agent rather than a captive insurance agent
  • Shop around
  • Insure with a NYS based insurance company rather than one that covers the entire country

Having one of our insurance professionals reevaluate your current insurance policies can (and will) help find any gaps in your insurance coverage and can save you hundreds of dollars too.

Saving money on your taxes when you have little to no understanding of how the tax codes work is never a good idea. You could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table by missing out on deductions! Having a well trained tax professional do your taxes will maximize your refund and having your money in your pocket is always better than having your money in Uncle Sam’s pocket. This year’s tax penalty for not having health insurance is pretty high, 2% of your household income high. The good news, HVA sells health insurance!

Lib Tax prep classes

When Dave Sr first opened up Hudson Valley Agents he had two goals, to offer quality insurance for the Hudson Valley and to save his clients money. HVA has been meeting those goals for twenty five years! Now Dave Sr has a new goal, to help save Hudson Valley residents money on their taxes. He opened up a Liberty Tax franchise in our Middletown office. Now there are two great ways to save money on your insurance and your taxes too! Call 845-673-4300 and speak to Dave Sr today!

Don’t be held captive by your insurance!

are you a captive

When you hear the word “captive” what is the first thought that comes into your head? Is it of a prisoner stuck behind bars with no freedom and no choices? That is the image that most people come up with, and why wouldn’t they? Merriam-Webster defines the word captive as – “taken and held as or as if a prisoner of war” or “kept within bounds or confined”. Neither definition has a positive ring to it. So why would anyone consider purchasing insurance through a captive agent?

A captive insurance agent is an insurance agent that can only offer you insurance the insurance options that their company offers. State Farm agents can only offer you the choices that State Farm has to offer and an Allstate agent’s rates are only as low as Allstate allows, their agents cannot look outside of their insurance company to find you insurance coverage that might better fit your needs. When you are talking about insurance the word captive means – NO CHOICE. We live in a world full of choices, why would we choose an insurance agent that has no choices at all?

Hudson Valley Agents is an independent insurance agency. We work with many different insurance companies (many of which are New York State based) and because we are independent we can find you an insurance policy that fits both your needs and your budget. We offer insurance choices that benefit our clients and all of the insurance companies we work with have an A- rating or better on AM Best.

We live in a world of choices and if your one size fits most insurance company doesn’t offer you something different from the rest then make the smart choice and go with a local independent insurance agency like Hudson Valley Agents. Don’t be held captive call HVA today!

Learning to love your empty nest

HVA love empty nest

The first day of college is rapidly approaching and many of the Hudson Valley’s graduates will be on their own in unknown towns and cities. There are tons of articles about preparing your teen for their first school year away from home but there is very little made of the fact that their parents will be coming home to what might be their first empty house in eighteen years.

Many different feelings surface when you and your spouse find yourselves alone for the first time in forever. You might be inclined to dance the happy dance or you might just close yourself in your child’s room and cry for a while. No matter what you end up doing just remember that these feelings are only temporary and that you will find a way through this. Remember these things

  • You will have more free time than you ever imagined.
  • You can text and email your kid(s), just don’t over do it.
  • Your kid(s) will be home soon, and so will their laundry.
  • You will no longer have to hide your chocolate stash.
  • You’ll have more free time to indulge in your hobbies.
  • If you don’t have a hobby, now’s the time to find one.
  • You will finally have all of the alone time you and your spouse could ever want.
  • Your home might remain clean much longer than it ever has before.

Having your kid(s) go away to college for the first time is not easy on any parent. There’s a quiet void that just does not feel natural but do not worry, sooner than you realize your home will be filled with your kid(s) and your kid’s friends and you will find yourself missing the quiet. Get yourself and your kid(s) ready for the college scene by making sure that their insurance needs are taken care of. Get in touch with Hudson Valley Agents and make sure that their car, phone, laptop, and other electronics are properly insured. HVA can help you and your college student navigate the confusing world of insurance and provide you with excellent insurance coverage too. Call us today.

Health insurance, music and HVA

 

listening to music makes you happy

Happy Friday Hudson Valley! Let’s talk about the health benefits of music. It seems that listening to music has quite a few health benefits and you might find some of them very surprising indeed.

Have you ever heard that “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast”? Well research says that it actually does soothe and calm our minds (I can only assume that speed metal does not apply here). A calm, relaxed mental state is something we all strive for isn’t it? Here are a few other things that music can do for your health:

  • Music helps stroke patients to heal. In Finland researches found that stroke patients who listened to music for 2 hours a day increased their verbal memory and improved their attention span.
  • Music can relieve or reduce depression symptoms. Pop a musical meditation CD or a classical CD in and feel the weight of your depression drain away. Techno and heavy metal might not help out here.
  • Music can increase blood flow. Music that makes us happy can make our bodies happy too. Read about the research here.
  • Music helps you become a better athlete. Listening to upbeat music while working out has tons of health benefits! It promotes endurance, motivation, and eases post workout recovery too.

Music motivates us, moves us, and changes us. We listen to it at work, in our cars, and in our homes. Sometimes just the first three notes of a song can transport us back to a happier day and who doesn’t need that in their lives?

Music is great but it cannot replace good health insurance and that’s why you need to call Hudson Valley Agents. Navigating the ins and outs of choosing a health insurance plan can make you crazy no matter what type of music you are listening to so why not let the insurance experts take care of it? Keep your stress level down and your health insurance premiums low and let us do the work for you. If you have recently lost your health insurance coverage and you need help choosing a health insurance plan then call Hudson Valley Agents today.