Navigating the Thrills and Spills of Insurance

With all of the recent natural disasters you may have taken stock of your own home and thought about what you might do to replace items you might lose in such a scenario. Here is a helpful link from the site United Policy Holders that helps explain how you might go about dealing with such issues.

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United Policy Holders is a non-profit [501 (c)(3)] dedicated to helping consumers successfully navigate various types of insurance to make sure each gets the best deal and fair shake when it comes time to both buying and using insurance. Think of them as a sort of Consumer Reports of insurance.

In fact, here is their mission statement posted on the home page:

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Just to the right of the mission statement is a short list of broad topic areas covered on the site:

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Today let’s focus on what can be done in the event you have to make a claim on your property due to some sort of disaster. They have a detailed, step by step tutorial on how to successfully make claims to replace much of, if not all of, your damaged property here:

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They even offer tools to help inventory your household items in advance to avoid having to complete the arduous task after a disaster has struck. There is even an app to assist in the process, if you get into that sort of thing:
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Another helpful feature I found was an example of an actual letter sent to an insurance company requesting an extension on the time allowed to complete a claim:

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This site offers a wealth of information from which anyone may benefit because nearly all of us have insurance of one type or another. This site aims to help us identify how to proactively take advantage of all our insurance carriers promise and to avoid being taken advantage of by what can be a bloated, dense bureaucracy.

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Fact Checking Claims for Nutritional Products

http://www.consumerlab.com/ Has the stated mission “To identify the best quality health and nutritional products through independent testing.” If you’re familiar with Consumer Reports, the leader for decades in unbiased testing of consumer products and services, then you understand what Consumer Lab is all about. They appear mostly to focus on products such as vitamins, herbal supplements and similar products. They have no advertising on their site, similar to the approach long practiced by Consumer Reports. They have a page on their site dedicated to a long list of various press releases, news stories and testimonials related to the foundation here. Additionally they have a “Where to Buy” page that helps people find where to buy products recommended on the site. Some online vendors pay a fee to be included on this page, but they receive no proceeds from sales through Consumer Lab. Suffice it to say, consumerlab.com appears to be the gold standard of information regarding effectiveness, safety and legitimacy of these products.

Memberships may be purchased by organizations such as libraries, or for around $40 a year individuals may subscribe to all articles on the site.

Climate Change Indicators in the United States

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-08/documents/climate_indicators_2016.pdf

The Environmental Protection Agency has put out a report detailing the effects of climate change on the nation. “Climate Change Indicators in the United States” “partners with more than 40 data contributors from various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations to compile a key set of indicators related to the causes and effects of climate change”, from the site. Previous editions of the report can be found here.

The report includes greenhouse gases, ocean temperature changes, weather anomalies, snow and ice melt, health effects, and ecosystem effects. Number of cases of lyme’s disease and west nile virus in the U.S. are also included. There is no index in the back of the book, but the table of contents is very inclusive.

NIDA for Teens: The Science behind Drug Abuse

http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) created this site in consultation with teens to offer “science-based facts about how drugs affect the brain and body so that kids will be armed with better information to make healthy decisions.” The site features facts about selected drugs, FAQ’s, personal stories, games, a blog, and materials for teachers and parents. Designed for teens from 11 – 15 years of age.

 

Water Pollution Information for Your Area

http://cfpub.epa.gov/dmr/index.cfm

The Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) Pollutant Loading Tool  is a new tool provided by the Environmental Protection Agency that allows you to find out what industries are discharging pollutants into water sources in your area.  You can also find out what and how much pollutants are being emitted and where they are being introduced into bodies of water.  This tool was made as a part of the EPA’s Clean Water Action Plan that is making information about pollutants more easily accessible.

Tox Town

http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/

“Visitors can learn in English or in Spanish about environmental health concerns and over 30 toxic chemicals in these imaginary neighborhoods: a City, Farm, Town, US-Mexico Border, and Port. In either language, Tox Town uses neighborhood scenes along with color, graphics, sounds, and animation to add interest to learning about connections between chemicals, the environment, and the public’s health.”  En espanol.