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.

1

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:

2

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

3

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:

4

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:
5

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:

6

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.

Advertisements

All you ever wanted to know about government spending but were too afraid to ask.

Ex Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has opened a new site called https://www.usafacts.org/, which describes itself as “a new data-driven portrait of the American population, our government’s finances, and government’s impact on society.” It claims to be a non-partisan site that provides a public service.

Mr. Ballmer sees this endeavor as philanthropy, and also takes it seriously as an academic venture. The site has a team made up of experts from Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), the Penn Wharton Budget Model, and Lynchburg College that, the claim goes “help keep our data accurate and unbiased”. The site not only uses only numbers and data directly from government sources, but has a policy of information only: no judgments, no opinions—just the facts. They also intend to “engage a prominent accounting firm” to audit their processes and controls used to present the information on the site.

So, let’s say you want to see a breakdown of what was spent in 2014. You start with this screen:

1

Once you decide to be curious about something else you follow the budget, which the site breaks down into categories found in the Constitution: Establish Justice and Ensure Domestic Tranquility, Provide for the Common Defense, Promote the General Welfare and Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity.

2Choose which category that interests you, and you’ll be taken to the next screen that gives more detailed information. So, under “Promote the General Welfare” I chose “Health”. It gives raw numbers on the spending in that area,

3

Then I can click to find an even more detailed breakdown of health spending.

4

This site looks to become a go-to for seekers of accurate, helpful information on how the U.S. government spends our tax money.

If you’re interested in further reading NPR did a article on this site that may be found here.

Volio

http://voliovolunteers.com/

A new website connecting individual volunteers with organizations in Memphis was just launched. It is the country’s first “virtual volunteer fair”.  The website provides an interactive platform and engaging videos. The 90-second videos of the organization can be found on the site. Then, a potential volunteer can then click on the “I’m Interested” button. A link to the organization’s website and a map of where it is located is also shown.

Charity Checker

http://www.tampabay.com/charitychecker

From the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting, Charity Checker provides information and ratings on different charities. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance, CharityNavigator, GreatNonprofits and GuideStar give the rating results, all in one place. This is the first time where the ratings and reviews for all four sites are aggregated together. Over 11,000 charities are listed on the site. A search can be done by name,  state, and category.  Once the charity is found, a rating is given for one or more of the organizations above. The site will also list the charity’s location, EIN number, and revenue.

Exempt Organizations Select Check

http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations-Select-Check

There is a new website from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that will allow you to see if an organization is a non-profit or charity. From the website, “Exempt Organizations Select Check is an on-line search tool that allows users to select an organization and check certain information about its federal tax status and filing.” After you click on the Select Organizations Exempt Check Tool at the website, there are three choices available to choose from.

  1. Organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions (Pub. 78 data),
  2. Organizations whose federal tax exemption was automatically revoked for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years, or
  3. Form 990-N (e-Postcard) filers and filings.

The name or EIN number can be typed into the search box. Then, the search results should come up with the organization name, EIN number and the location it is in. The Deductibility Status is also listed (the type of charity the organization is.). This website is replacing Publication 78, which is no longer published by the IRS.

FindYouthInfo.gov

http://findyouthinfo.gov/

From the website, “FindYouthInfo.gov is the U.S. government Web site that helps you create, maintain, and strengthen effective youth programs.” One section of the website provides information of different topics that affect youth. Each listing provides the latest resources on the subject.

There is also a “Map My Community” section which provides information on federally supported youth resources in a community. A search can be done by zip code. There are different topics and government departments that allow you to limit the search to just that specific program. Collaboration profiles are also included for non-profits and private agencies.

Establishing a non-profit organization

http://foundationcenter.org/getstarted/tutorials/establish/index.html

This free tutorial from the Foundation Center provides the 12 steps needed to start a non-profit organization. Information includes incorporating the non-profit, drafting by-laws on how the foundation will be run, and having a board of directors that will help govern the organization. Resources on the web show links that enable users to gather a employee identification number, an application of tax exempt status, and other resources.