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Mark Strobel
4550 W. Tilghman Street | Allentown, PA 18104
Phone: 610-398-8111 1471 | Office Phone: 610-398-8111 | Fax: 267-354-6254
email: mstrobel@remaxcentralinc.com

My Blog

How to Cash in on Travel Delay Claims

July 20, 2017 1:03 am

Travel lovers know that sometimes, delays happen. Unfortunately, delays can throw a pretty big wrench in your travel plan, causing you to miss that next connecting flight, an important event, or even the boarding of your cruise ship! And after all of that rerouting, getting your delay claims back from your insurance company can be an even bigger headache.

To help, Squaremouth, shares the following tips on getting travel delay claims approved.

Contact Your Provider's Emergency Assistance. Each travel insurance provider on squaremouth.com has a 24-Hour Emergency Assistance department that will explain coverage based on your situation.

"Before making any changes to your itinerary or spending money on a hotel room, we recommend contacting your provider's Emergency Assistance," says Squaremouth Claims Director Brandi Morse. "Whether it's a travel delay or a flight cancellation, they will be able to explain your options immediately."

Keep All of Your Receipts During the Delay
Your insurance benefits can reimburse you for meals and hotels while your trip is delayed, but you must remember to keep your receipts from the delay. Most policies include Travel Delay coverage as an extra benefit for travelers. This benefit will typically reimburse between $250-$1,500 per traveler.

Get a Statement From Your Airline Confirming the Delay
Travel insurance providers typically require a statement confirming you were actually delayed and why. To be reimbursed, you usually must be delayed for a minimum of 3 hours, however some policies don't provide coverage until a delay exceeds 12 hours.

Most approved Travel Delay claims are for severe weather or a mechanical breakdown that impacts a flight. However, missing your flight because you got caught up at a security checkpoint, especially as airports increase security measures, is not covered.

Keep Your Trip Documentation
Many providers will ask travelers to show the impact of a delay on their travel plans. In some cases, you may be covered by the Travel Delay benefit to catch up to your cruise.

Source: Squaremouth

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Steps to Keep Your Car Prepared for Summer Heat

July 20, 2017 1:03 am

(Family Features)--Taking proper care of your vehicle is important all year, but summer heat brings a unique set of challenges to your car's air conditioning system, tires, brakes, battery and more. To ensure your vehicle is prepared to safely handle the summer elements and to help avoid breakdowns, preventative maintenance is necessary.   

The car care experts at Goodyear Auto Service offer these essential tips that can help keep your car performing safely, comfortably and cool - all summer long:

1. Keep tires properly inflated. As temperatures rise, so does your tire pressure. Tires with high air pressure perform inefficiently as compared to properly inflated tires. Check your tires regularly, leveraging the inflation level molded into the driver door sidewall or in your vehicle's manual.

2. Check air conditioning. The experts at weather.com are predicting warmer than average summer temperatures for a vast majority of the country. When temperatures climb, avoid losing your cool with preventative care.

3. Test and replace the battery. Battery failure is the No. 1 cause of car breakdowns. Often, batteries give slight warning signs when they run low. For example, you may notice the engine struggling to turn over upon ignition or see white, blue or orange fuzz forming around the battery. While a typical battery life is 4 1/2 years, each day of extreme weather - both hot and cold - contributes to the shortening of a battery's life. It's a good idea to have your battery tested by a trained professional during peak seasons to determine whether it's time for a replacement.

4. Don't overlook tread depth. When it comes to tire maintenance, proper depth is an easy way to maximize safety and performance. There are several ways to check tread depth, including the "penny test." Simply insert a penny into your tire's tread groove with Lincoln's head upside down, facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, it's time to replace your tires.

5. Inspect brakes. If your car jerks or pulls to the side when you apply the brakes, or if you hear sounds like squeaking, squealing or grinding, it's likely time for service. Always check your owner's manual, but a general rule of thumb is to have your brakes checked every 12 months or 15,000 miles.

Source: GoodYear

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Are All-Inclusive Resorts Worth the Cost?

July 19, 2017 1:00 am

The thought of a relaxing week on the beach with food and entertainment included in the price, and no travel decisions to make, may make you want to reach for a suitcase.

But are theses all-inclusive resorts the vacation panaceas they seem to be? California travel agent Ricardo Gomez points out the pros and cons.

The Pros:
Economy and convenience – Most all-inclusive resorts are located in beach locations close to major airports, and transportation to and from are provided – and the fact that pretty much everything is included is, of course, is the biggest perk. Enjoy three meals a day, plus snacks and beverages, without going for your wallet. Grab a beach umbrella, do some surfing, see a show or do some crafting. Except for personal care, like massages or manicures, there will be few extra charges – and daycare or babysitting may be available.

Planned activities – In most instances, couples and families can fill their days with all sorts of planned activities from beach games, boating, and water aerobics to swimming lessons and kiddie day-camping. There’s no need to make arrangements in advance or to rent the necessary gear.

The Cons:
Size, noise, and crowds – What’s less apparent are that most all-inclusives are huge. You may need to take a shuttle just to get from your cabana to the dining room – and you’d better stake out your spot on the beach early, because you’ll likely be bucking a crowd. At family resorts, be prepared for lots of happy but noisy kids, while adults-only resorts may find you faced with loud music and less than pleasant encounters with rude and/or inebriated guests.

A less than authentic experience – The menus and entertainment at all-inclusives are designed to please the masses, so while the food is plentiful, it may be mediocre and lacking in local flavor. In many cases, distance from town will preclude the option to explore the local culture, too, so your dining, entertainment and shopping options will be limited to what’s on-site.

If you want to try an all-inclusive resort, Gomez advises, don’t rely on what you see online. Check with a travel agent who has been there, or knows others who have.  To widen your options, choose a resort that’s a cab ride away from a major city or town.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Your Garden’s Matured - Now What?

July 19, 2017 1:00 am

The fruits of your labor have finally paid off. Years of planting and nurturing perennials, shrubs and trees has now yielded a lush, abundant garden.

However, a mature landscape can need just as much care as a fledgling garden. Plants can become overgrown, crowding out sunlight and unwittingly hampering new growth. Shrubs and trees can start to encroach on your living space. Generally speaking, mature gardens can have an unkempt and straggly look, impacting your curb appeal and the overall look and feel of your home.

Here are some easy steps to restore order:

1. Divide large perennials. As perennials mature, they can get too large and actually yield fewer blooms. Dig them up and carefully separate them into smaller plants. You can plant these in new locations around your yard or give them away to friends and family. Be patient - transplants may take a year or two to bloom.

2. Trim trees. Don’t be afraid to give your trees a good pruning.  Cut lower branches that may be intruding into other trees or outdoor seating areas, hanging too low over a fence, or jutting into your driveway. Trimming your trees will also allow sunlight back into your yard, which will help grass grow and flowers bloom.

3. Shape bushes. Use your hedge cutters to give your bushes and shrubs a healthy haircut. Restoring them to neat, shapely sizes will allow you to enjoy their foliage and blooms and provide symmetry and breathing room to your yard.

4. Cut back greens. Trailing evergreen shrubs and ivy might now be taking up a bit too much real estate in your yard, taking over trees, fences and stone walls. Cut them back and allow your yard’s architectural elements to take center stage again.

Getting control of your mature plantings will add brand new life to your garden beds and landscapes, while adding spaciousness and views to your yard again.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Save on Home Energy This Summer

July 19, 2017 1:00 am

Looking to save some cash this summer? Turn to your house. Many of us are accidentally overpaying on our utilities by missing out on some major ways to save.

Southern Trust Home Services offers the following tips to keep the home cool and reduce energy bills:  

Use a programmable thermostat – It is wise to use a programmable thermostat and raise the temperature when the resident is not home. Doing this will prevent the system from using unnecessary energy to cool the home if no one is home.

Turn on ceiling fans – If used in conjunction with an air conditioning system, the fans are very effective at lowering the indoor temperature by circulating the cool air throughout the room. In the summer, ceiling fan blades should rotate counterclockwise to push cool air down to the floor. In the winter the blades should turn clockwise to pull cool air up.

Postpone the use of appliances — On average, there are three major heat generating appliances in the home, the oven, dishwasher and dryer. It is best to use these devices in the evening instead of the hottest part of the day. If possible, skip using the oven during the summer and grill outside more often. Any use of the oven will heat up the home.

Keep the doors inside the home open — While in the winter, closing interior doors helps keep heat in specific rooms. Doing so in the hot summer months is detrimental to your cause. You want air to flow freely through rooms and throughout the entire home. Good airflow means a cooler home.

Change air filters regularly — Clogged filters will force the air conditioning system to work harder and use more energy, resulting in higher utility bills. Clean filters also improve indoor air quality.

Check the window coverings —Thermal drapes, cellular shades or blackout curtains will keep the heat outside and the cool air inside the home.

Schedule an air conditioner tune-up — Proper HVAC maintenance, which includes having a professional clean coils, fins, air filters and check for the proper refrigerant charge, is the best way to ensure that the unit runs efficiently and effectively.

Source:  Southern Trust Home Services.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Mother of All Paint Jobs: Your House

July 17, 2017 1:00 am

If your DIY ambitions have reached epic proportion and you’re ready to take on painting your home’s exterior solo, weigh the decision carefully before proceeding. You’ll need to decide if you have the time and patience to do a detailed and thorough job. If you’re ready, willing and able, here’s how HGTV recommends going about it:

Step 1: Prep Your Surface
Priming your home’s exterior is essential to a good result. If you’re painting a new stucco home, let it cure for at least 28 days, otherwise the paint will not adhere properly. If you’re repainting an existing home, check for peeling, chipping, mildew, etc. Remove mildew by using a garden sprayer to apply a chlorine bleach solution, then use a pressure washer to remove dirt and old paint from the entire exterior.

Step 2: Caulk and Patch
Use caulk to seal any cracks and joints where one type of exterior comes up against a different type of exterior, such as window frames, door frames, molding and fascia boards. Patch chips in an older stucco surface with new stucco - allowing time for it to cure - and replace wood siding or fascia boards that show any signs of rotting. Gently sand wood trim and doors to ensure an ideal surface for painting.

Step 3: Prime
Primer is key to a good paint job as it has a high resin content that locks old paint in place and creates a healthy surface for new paint to adhere to. If you are repainting walls that have become chalky or dusty, select a chalky wall sealer. Paint will not stick to a dusty surface. When dealing with new construction, latex primer works well for vinyl and most wood siding. Check the label on your primer or sealer to determine how long to wait before you begin painting.

Step 4: Choose Quality Paint
Opt for a 100-percent acrylic latex paint for your home’s exterior. Better quality paints are usually higher in volume solids and have better binders to help hold pigments in place longer, improving the durability of your paint job. Check the manufacturer's website or ask your local distributor for a Technical Data Sheet, to determine a paint’s level of volume solids, but generally speaking, those labeled "premium" or "super-premium" are higher in volume solids than budget brands.

Step 5: Choose an Appealing Color
This may seem like an obvious step, but it’s really the most important one - not to mention potentially overwhelming - so do some research. Investigate your neighborhood to see what you like on other houses, but take into consideration the style of your home. Choose a color that complements your roofing and any brick or stone accents you may have. If you’re having trouble deciding, paint samples on your home’s exterior and study how it looks at different parts of the day. And keep in mind that vibrant colors will fade faster.

Step 6: Time to Paint
The ideal way to paint exterior walls is called spraying and back-rolling. This method requires two people, one to apply paint with a sprayer, another to follow behind with a roller. This delivers an even finish, particularly on textured surfaces like stucco. If your budget allows, apply a second coat after the recommended dry time. Muted colors cover better than bright ones, which may require a second coat to get the full color.

Step 7: The Details
The last step is to paint the doors, fascia, molding, shutters and other decorative details. Use a good brush or 6-inch "hot dog" rollers.

Remember, there are no short cuts, so be prepared to invest the necessary time. And it will be worth it - a quality paint job can last 10 years in the right climate.

Source: HGTV.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips for Summer Eye Safety

July 17, 2017 1:00 am

This summer, don’t let your eyes sizzle behind a pair of cheap sunglasses. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, when our eyes are exposed to strong sunlight without proper protection, UV rays can burn the cornea and even cause temporary blindness. Long-term sun exposure is linked to more serious eye disease, such as cataracts, eye cancer and growths on or near the eye. A lifetime of exposure also likely increases progression of age-related macular degeneration, a condition that can cause blindness.
Below are a handful of eye safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Shop right. When shopping for sunglasses, look for a tag or label that says 100 percent protection against both UVA and UVB or 100 percent protection against UV 400. UV protection is the essential piece you need to look for in a pair of sunglasses. Darkness and color do not indicate the strength of UV protection, and neither does the price tag. Even the least expensive sunglasses can offer adequate protection.

Double check if needed. If you doubt your sunglasses have the UV protection claimed by a retail tag, take them to an optical shop. Any shop that has a UV light meter can test your sunglasses. A UV light meter is a handy test for when you doubt your sunglasses have the UV protection claimed by a retail tag or if they are simply old and you want to make sure.

Add a hat. In addition to shades, consider wearing a hat with broad brim. They have been shown to significantly cut exposure to harmful rays.

Check your child. If you’re a parent, make sure your child’s eyes are properly protected. "It's so important for children to wear UV-blocking sunglasses early in life. It's the cumulative damage that occurs over time that puts you at risk of developing sight-robbing eye disease," says Jeff Pettey, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "And it's never too late to pick up the habit. Start protecting your eyes today."

Source: the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ice Cream

July 17, 2017 1:00 am

Ice cream is an all American sweet treat. While it’s perfect for hot summer days, most Americans enjoy ice cream all year long. In fact, people living in the United States indulge in ice cream more than any nation in the world, averaging a whopping 48 pints per person, per year, according to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA).  Ninety-eight percent of all U.S. households purchase ice cream, with more sold on Sunday than any other day of the week. The NFRA notes that 87 percent have ice cream in their freezer at any given time.

Since ice cream season is in full swing, below are 10 ice cream facts, from the NFRA.

Top Ten Cool Ice Cream Facts

- The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776.
- It takes 3 gallons of milk to make one gallon of ice cream.
- A cow gives enough milk to make 2 gallons of ice cream per day - that's 730 gallons per year.
- About 10 percent of all milk produced in the US is used to make ice cream.
- The most popular ice cream flavors are Vanilla, Chocolate, Cookies 'n Cream, Strawberry and Mint Chocolate Chip.
- The favorite ice cream topping is chocolate syrup.
- It takes about 50 licks to finish a single scoop ice cream cone
- One in 10 people admit to licking the bowl clean after eating ice cream, and 1 in 5 share with their pet.
- Cherry is the number one popsicle flavor.
- Twin popsicles were invented during the Depression so two children could share one treat.

Source: National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA)

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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For the Real Estate Market, the Outlook is Good

July 14, 2017 1:00 am

Despite the rise in home prices and affordability issues in several pockets of the country, the U.S. housing market has a bright future. According to Nationwide’s latest forward-looking barometer of U.S. housing market health, the primary reason for the positive outlook is simple: housing demand. Household formation growth picked up sharply over the last quarter to move above the long-term average, and job gains remain solid.

According to Nationwide's Health of Housing Markets Report (HoHM Report), household growth is expected to remain above average during the next few years, increasing demand on an already limited supply of homes. In fact, while the National Association of REALTORS® recently reported that national home inventory is at about four months at the current sales pace, several markets are experiencing just a month's supply of inventory turnover in half – and even a quarter – of that amount of time.

The report also found that, regionally, the rankings show positive and healthy housing trends in more than 75 percent of MSAs, suggesting sustainable expansion during the next year.

While markets with strong ties to the energy sector (including North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, and Alaska) continue to dominate the bottom 10 rated MSAs, the outlook for housing in these areas is slowly improving as energy production and employment recover.

MSAs with the lowest housing inventory are, in order: Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.; Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.; Tacoma-Lakewood, Wash.; Boulder, Colo.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.; Mankato-North Mankato, Minn.; Olympia-Tumwater, Wash.; San Francisco-Redwood City, Calif.; Sacramento-Roseville, Calif.; Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas; San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, Calif.

The 10 top metro areas in the index are, in order: Lancaster, Pa.; Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla.; Lawton, Okla.; Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.; Pittsfield, Mass.; Toledo, Ohio; Springfield, Mass.; Philadelphia; and Vineland-Bridgeton, N.J.

Source: Nationwide

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Priciest Zipcodes, Unveiled

July 14, 2017 1:00 am

It’s no secret that some areas of the country are pricier than others. To explore this,

GOBankingRates used data from Zillow to find out how zipcodes stacked up against one another. To do this, the company surveyed median home values and mortgage payments, as well as cost of living expenses such as groceries, transportation, utilities and healthcare for zip codes in 48 states and the District of Columbia. To find the total amount of money needed to live comfortably in each zip code, the study split the costs using the following metrics: necessities (50 percent), discretionary income (30 percent) and savings (20 percent).
Below are the results.

Top 5 Most Expensive Zip Codes

Atherton, Calif.: 94027
Total Income Needed: $668,078

Water Mill, N.Y.: 11976
Total Income Needed: $438,510

Alpine, N.J.: 7620
Total Income Needed: $330,756

Medina, Wash.: 98039
Total Income Needed: $297,905

Greenwich, Conn.: 6830
Total Income Needed: $222,002

Additional Study Insights

- Honolulu, Hawaii (96821) sits at No. 6 on the list of most expensive zip codes across the country, with a total income of $202,798 needed to live comfortably there. This city also has utility, transportation and grocery costs that top the charts.

- Of the most expensive ZIP codes in every state, the 25314 ZIP code in Charleston, West Virginia is the lowest, with a total income needed of just $61,100.

- South Dakota and Maine have been excluded from the list due to lack of data (for example, only two ZIP codes exist in Maine).

Source: GOBankingRates

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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