Any active person knows the lingering smell of a sweaty gym bag. Even after airing out your equipment or putting it through the wash, the stink can stick around.
You might be tempted to wash and dry repeatedly, but this doesn’t always remove those smelly odors. The stench keeps coming back, leaving you frustrated when nothing seems to work. What’s worse – all that trial and error can do more than wear out your clothes.
Multiple cycles, larger loads and extra chemicals can overwhelm your washer or dryer, too, leading to fire hazards. According to the U.S Fire Administration, there are more than 2,000 dryer fires every year, causing an estimated $35 million in property damage. (Related: How to Prevent a Dryer Fire)
So what can you do to prevent dryer fires and smelly gear? Protect your nose (and your home) with these cleaning hacks:
- Avoid heat. Heat kills bacteria, right? Sure, but it can also make bad odors stronger. Stick to low heat or no heat at all. And air dry clothes and equipment whenever you can. It’ll make your clothes and dryer last longer.
- Use the right amount of detergent. Many people add extra detergent to compensate for bad smells. But if the stench goes away only to return later, your detergent is most likely keeping odors in. Limit detergent to prevent soap buildup and add other cleaners designed to attack bacteria.
- Give gear a bath. Fill your bathtub with water and some detergent to wash larger foam or plastic items. Never put anything with foam, rubber or plastic in the dryer. After it’s soaked, wring the suds out and let it dry. (See also: How to Store Your Outdoor Gear During the Offseason)
- Turn it inside out. Most dirt and grime lives on the inside of your equipment. Flip your gear inside out so your washer can eliminate smells at the source.
- Use different cleaners. Special detergents and laundry boosters could be the secret ingredient to clean gear. Try adding a booster like white vinegar or baking soda in controlled amounts. These solutions will break up bacteria and give your clothes a deep clean. Sports detergent is designed to solve the problem on its own, too.
- Pay attention to the tag. Some sports gear isn’t meant for the washer and dryer. The tag could tell you if it requires hand washing, low heat or dry cleaning. Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. This protects both your clothes and appliances.
- Skip fabric softener. In most cases, fabric softener makes clothes smell fresh. But it can do the opposite with fitness gear. Fabric softeners leave a coating that traps odor-causing bacteria. If you’re deodorizing, skip the fabric softener so the water can do its job.
Protect your Home and Equipment
Owning a home has many rewards, but it takes work, too.
Caring for your home doesn’t stop at the laundry room. At Erie Insurance, we want to help you protect what’s important to you. Rest easy knowing we’re available 24/7 if you need us.
Posted on 16 September 2019 | 9:00 pm
Life insurance, by its very nature, is deeply personal. It transforms the vulnerable into the secure.
It can also leave you wondering – how does that all work, anyway?
Keep reading for answers to a few curious questions you’ve probably wondered about life insurance… but were too afraid to ask.
Q: I have a dangerous hobby. Can I still get life insurance?
A: In many cases, yes – but expect to answer some questions and (probably) pay a little extra to account for the additional risk.
Before giving you a quote, your local insurance agent may ask you to fill out a written questionnaire to understand more about your hobby. At ERIE, that includes hobbies such as:
- Rock climbing
- Vehicle racing (stock cars, drag racing, motorcycles, etc.)
- Sky diving
- Scuba diving
The questionnaire will ask you some basic information to understand your hobby. This could include:
- How long you’ve been doing this hobby
- How frequently you participate
- Any training, education or certifications you’ve received
- If you ever get paid or hired for your hobby (as opposed to just doing it for fun)
- Future goals or plans for your hobby
It’s important to be honest when filling out your questionnaire. If you fudge the details in an attempt to seem less risky… that could be grounds for denying a claim later on. Your completed questionnaire is sent to the life insurance underwriter, who determines the scope of the risk – and ultimately helps calculate the rate you’ll pay.
For example: Let’s say you’re into rock climbing. Does that mean you climb indoors with friends once in a while at the local gym? Or are you planning a trip to the Himalayas to go ice climbing alone? Similarly, if you have a private pilot license – are you taking occasional short trips for business? Or are you regularly stunt flying in air shows on the weekends?
You get the idea… it’s all about calculating that risk.
Q: If I quit smoking, can I get re-rated to save money on life insurance?
A: First things first: Good for you!
As for your life insurance: Generally speaking, yes – you can ask your local agent to get your existing policy re-rated. Before you do, though, you’ll likely have to show some stability in those lifestyle changes for a year or two to prove that you’re in this for the long haul.
What happens next may differ, depending on the circumstances. (Your agent can explain the specifics as they pertain to you.)
If you quit smoking because you’re just ready to live a healthier lifestyle – great! With no complications, you could get bumped from the “smoker “to the “nonsmoker” rate classification (and likely save some money in the process).
But, if you quit for a medical reason – such as a diagnosis of COPD or lung cancer – that’s a health concern that could impact the cost savings you’d otherwise see from quitting smoking. Your agent will ask you to fill out a questionnaire to get the specifics on why and how you quit.
Q: What if I lose 50 pounds? Could I get re-rated then?
Similar to the smoking example above, expect some follow-up questions about your weight loss. For example: “How and why did you lose the weight?” There are risks that come with weight loss surgeries, such as gastric bypass or lap band surgeries. Similarly, if you dropped a bunch of weight without even trying to… that could be the sign of a worrisome chronic illness or depression. If you start or stop taking certain medications because of your weight loss, that could also affect your rate.
If your weight loss is the product of good ol’ fashioned discipline, diet and exercise: Once you show you can keep it off (and provide any necessary test results and information), you could get bumped to a more favorable rate class.
Remember, insurance rates are all about data and probability. When it comes to weight loss, most carriers will add at least 50% of the weight back when they calculate your new rate. Why? Statistically speaking, if you drop a bunch of weight, studies show you’re likely to gain at least some of it back.
Ask your ERIE agent about re-rating your policy if or when your circumstances change.
TALK TO A LOCAL ERIE AGENT FOR A LIFE INSURANCE QUOTE
Have a weird or embarrassing insurance question? Don’t be shy: Our local agents are licensed professionals – they’re not here to judge.
LEARN MORE ABOUT LIFE INSURANCE
Read about ERIE’s life insurance offerings or check out these related blog posts:
- I Have Life Insurance Through Work. Isn’t That Enough?
- Don’t Let These 6 Reasons Hold You Back from Buying Life Insurance
- 8 Tips for Buying Life Insurance for the First Time
- Term vs. Whole Life Insurance: Which Do You Need?
ERIE life insurance products and services are provided by Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home office Erie, PA), a member of Erie Insurance Group, and are not available in New York.
Posted on 12 September 2019 | 9:00 pm
It’s estimated that $1 billion in benefits from forgotten and lost life insurance policies are sitting unclaimed in America, says Consumer Reports. Could you be among the estimated 1 in 600 people who may be the beneficiary of an unclaimed life insurance policy?
If so, there are ways to find out. Here are some tips to help.
5 Ways to Locate a Lost Life Insurance Policy
- Comb the house. Sometimes the thing we’re missing is right under our nose. First, go through any files or safe deposit boxes where the lost life insurance policy may be before launching a full-fledged investigation.
Think back to the beginning. Which insurance agent may have sold it? Which insurance company may have issued it? What was the name and Social Security number of the person who bought it? Was the policy a term or permanent life policy? Any information you can remember will help the insurance agent and/or customer representative you contact.
Related: What’s the Difference Between Term and Whole Life Insurance?
You might also have to contact any attorneys, financial advisers, accountants or other advisers who might have had something to do with issuing the policy.
Also consider contacting the deceased individual’s former employer. Many times the policies are group policies that were originally taken out through an employer.
If the policyholder passed away relatively recently and you have the authority or permission, take a look at the deceased person’s bank statements for premium payments or policy-related material.
- Contact your state’s insurance department. Generally, an insurance company that is unable to locate a policy’s beneficiary is required to turn over the benefits to the state’s unclaimed property office after a certain number of years have passed. Think about the state in which the policy could have been issued. Then visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website to learn how to contact your state insurance department.
Look it up online. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a free website that makes it easy to search a number of life insurance and annuity companies at once. You can run a search if you’re the executor or legal representative of a deceased person, or if you have reason to believe you’re a beneficiary.
Submit a request or read the FAQ at the Life Insurance Policy Locator Service website. You can also check in with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, which operates the website MissingMoney.com.
Watch out for scammers. There are life insurance scams out there whereby an “insurer” promises to reunite you with unclaimed funds. Don’t immediately respond to someone claiming to be the representative of an insurance company. Instead, call that insurance company’s claims number to see if the offer is legit.
How to prevent a lost life insurance policy in the first place
Life insurance is a powerful agent of relief. Taking care of the future needs of your loved ones makes you feel capable, purposeful and satisfied.
Spare yourself and your beneficiaries from the hassle caused by a lost life insurance policy by following this advice:
- Clearly name your beneficiaries on the policy.
- Let your beneficiaries know about the policy. Also tell them the name of the insurance agent and company that issued the policy.
- Keep your insurance documents in a safe, logical place like a fireproof safe or bank safe. Not sure what kind of safe to buy? Read our guide to safe storage of important documents.
When you count on ERIE to help plan for the future, we’ll help you consider the variables, lay out the options and make the process comfortable and efficient.
Learn more about our flexible and affordable life insurance* options, or find a local ERIE agent to talk it through in person.
*ERIE life insurance products and services are provided by Erie Family Life Insurance Company, a member of Erie Insurance Group, and are not available in New York.
This story was originally published in 2014. It was updated with new information in 2019.
Posted on 9 September 2019 | 9:00 pm
We live in a world of instant gratification. These days, you can order takeout, book a plane ticket, or even find a Friday night date – all with a swipe and a tap on your phone.
Living in the moment is a beautiful thing. But when it comes to financial planning… it’s important to think ahead. Life insurance puts you in control of how you want your legacy to live on. What’s more, it spares your family the stress of scraping by to afford final expenses and pay bills after you’re gone.
ONLINE MEMORIALS: A GROWING TREND
Enter funeral crowdfunding. Websites like GoFundMe (which recently acquired YouCaring.com), FundTheFuneral or DepositAGift let families ask for donations online to cover funeral and burial costs, or to fund other memorial wishes in honor of a loved one who passed.
A 2015 study from the Funeral and Memorial Information Council found that 17 percent of young adults (age 20-39) have crowdsourced funeral/memorial costs online. For adults age 40 and older, the number is much smaller at 4 percent.
Still, the trend shows no signs of slowing down. A recent New York Times article reported that memorials are one of GoFundMe’s fastest growing categories, comprising 13 percent of all crowdfunding campaigns on the site in 2017.
Crowdfunding usually isn’t a family’s first choice to pay for final expenses. Often, the circumstances are tragic and unexpected. Many times, donations are collected because the deceased didn’t have life insurance.
Final expenses aren’t cheap. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of an average funeral is around $7,000. (That doesn’t include cemetery monument or burial costs, which vary widely by area.)
Crowdfunding might help in a pinch – but life insurance is a reliable, affordable way to plan for the future. And after all, wouldn’t you rather be in control of making that plan yourself?
THE DOWNSIDES OF FUNERAL CROWDFUNDING
Losing a loved one is a deeply personal time of grief. It’s challenging enough to plan the logistics of a funeral during an emotionally draining time – let alone manage a fundraiser. Online memorials are easy to set up, but they might have more complications than you’d think.
The amount raised is unpredictable. This is the big one. Even the most well-intentioned campaign could fall short of your goal. It’s already humbling to ask family and friends for money. If you don’t raise enough, you’re still stuck with the stress of how to pay those bills.
Most sites charge fees. While this isn’t surprising – after all, the websites have to make money to provide their services— it can be an extra hurdle between your donors’ gifts and your need to pay expenses. Some sites charge a platform fee, or a percentage taken out of the total amount of money you raise. Most sites charge a transaction fee to cover the cost of processing payments, even if they don’t have a platform fee.
The tax implications are still unclear. As of publication time for this article, the IRS still hasn’t released official guidance on how to report income raised through crowdfunding. Donors who chip in to a fund for personal expenses should know that their donation isn’t tax-deductible.
On the receiving end, donations to a crowdfunding memorial are usually considered to be personal gifts and not taxed as income. That also means you can’t offer goods or services (like a bake sale or car wash) in return for someone who makes a donation. Still, experts agree it’s a gray area.
Most importantly, you could end up in hot water if you don’t report the income on your taxes and the IRS finds out about it later. In short: Always consult a tax professional for your unique situation.
No one thinks they’ll be the one to lose a loved one in an unexpected or tragic accident. However, it does happen – and stories like the ones we read on funeral crowdfunding pages remind us why it matters to plan ahead.
What makes life insurance different?
Planning ahead to secure the well-being of your family is more than a transaction: It's an act of love. Here’s why life insurance is a better option:
It’s a stress-reliever. Losing a loved one is difficult enough on its own. If you plan ahead, you spare your family the anxiety of wondering how they’ll pay for expenses – or the logistical stress of running a fundraiser during a time of grief.
You can make your wishes clear. Instead of your family wondering what you would have wanted, you can choose how much coverage you want and name the beneficiaries to receive it when you’re gone.
It’s more predictable. With life insurance, there’s no guessing how much you’ll raise through donations. You know what to expect ahead of time. (Learn more about the predictability and security of whole life insurance.)
You can plan for more than just final expenses. Life insurance can be a powerful way to invest in your family’s financial freedom. You can set it up to pay off debt, help your spouse pay the mortgage, fund your children’s college education or even make a donation to charity. (Learn more about adjustable options with universal life insurance.)
It’s more affordable than you think. Life insurance can often be obtained for pennies on the dollar, especially if you’re young and healthy. (For a cost-effective solution, learn more about term life insurance.)
TAKE THE NEXT STEP
Life insurance is, by its very nature, deeply personal. You have the opportunity to plan ahead. Start the conversation with a local Erie Insurance agent.
When you count on ERIE to secure the comfort of your loved ones, we honor your confidence by acting with purpose and integrity. Learn more about life insurance from ERIE* and request a quote online.
Want more information about life insurance? Check out these stories from the Eriesense blog.
- The First-Time Buyer’s Guide to Life Insurance
- Term vs. Whole Life: What’s the Difference?
- 6 Reasons Why People Put Off Buying Life Insurance
- A Life Insurance Guide for Single Parents
- Why Millennials Need Life Insurance
*ERIE® life insurance products and services are provided by Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home office: Erie, Pennsylvania). Additional product and company licensure information is available at erieinsurance.com/lifeinsurance or from your local ERIE Agent. Life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York. Nothing in this article constitutes an offer of insurance. Eligibility for insurance coverage will be determined at the time of application based on applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time. The insurance products referenced in this advertisement are in effect as of February 2019 and may be altered at any time.
Posted on 5 September 2019 | 9:00 pm
In the simplest sense, the lights in your house are there to help you see. But they’re capable of so much more. Like your floor plan and color scheme, home lighting can also help set the mood and add character to the place you call home.
Professional and amateur home decorators alike go on about the value of a few well-placed lights. Yet many homeowners only think in terms of lamps and overhead lights.
Putting some extra effort into your lighting design can brighten up your daily tasks — or your next house party. Whether you’re looking to update the kitchen, add a fresh coat of paint or reduce your energy costs, many of these quick fixes will boost your home’s value, too.
Here are some bright ideas to illuminate your living space:
- Pick the right bulb. Make sure your bulb is the proper strength, shape and size for your fixture. Then, choose a light shade that complements the room. Soft white bulbs have a yellow hue and are a great choice for bedrooms and living rooms. Bright white bulbs appear more white than yellow, which can work well in kitchens and bathrooms. The correct bulb choice helps fill rooms with the right amount of light and doesn’t require any remodeling.
- Add decorative lights. Add small lights underneath paintings or curios to bring attention to the decorations in your home. Some accent lights require hard wiring, but others can be plugged into the wall and hung right where you need them. (Want more inspo? Check out this list of 5 stylish ways to display your kids’ artwork.)
- Light your stairs. Going upstairs in the dark can be dangerous. Consider adding some lights along your steps. The extra light will visually connect the floors of your home, while helping guests navigate their way through it.
- Add lights in layers. Many homeowners rely on overhead fixtures to light up a room. But lower lights and lamps can make a space more usable and versatile. Add task lights, lamps and more to create more lighting sources at a variety of levels.
- Eliminate shadows. Poorly placed lights will cast subtle shadows. These can be especially inconvenient in places like the bathroom or kitchen. Make sure you light your rooms evenly so you don’t create more problems than you solve. (Get more kitchen DIY ideas in our list of 8 easy and affordable ways to upgrade your kitchen.)
- Add some color. Colored bulbs or shades can add a lot of personality to a room. Add a pop of color around certain spaces to accent or highlight a specific area.
- Repaint your room. Trying to brighten up a dark room? The color of your walls will either reflect or absorb available light. You may be surprised how much a lighter shade of paint can brighten up a dark space.
- Set the mood. Bright spaces are beautiful, but there are times when lower light is best. Installing a dimmer switch can provide the best of both worlds — allowing you to instantly adjust the feel of your room. It’s a quick and easy job for an electrician. And with a little know-how, it’s not a difficult DIY project, either.
- Save energy. Energy-saving options can boost your home’s value by 3-5%, according to Consumer Reports. Install smart technology and energy-efficient bulbs when possible to reduce energy consumption. LED light bulbs are becoming increasingly available and affordable. CFL bulbs are another eco-friendly choice – but they do contain gas, so know how to clean up properly if you drop one.
As much as the walls and windows make up your home, the lights bring each room to life. You improve your home to create the perfect environment for family and friends. Because home isn’t just a place – it’s a feeling, too.
At Erie Insurance, we get how important “home” is. And we’re here to protect it. Contact your local ERIE agent to get the right coverage for your home and all that you’ve invested in it. Learn more about homeowners insurance from ERIE.
Posted on 4 September 2019 | 9:00 pm