Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37 31 OT

By Barry Wilner

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ It’s the dead of winter, meaning the weather in New England can be brutal. And that the Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl.

It took them overtime and more of Tom Brady’s brilliance to get there _ for the third straight year. While the folks back home dealt with a frigid storm, Brady blew through Kansas City’s exhausted defence on a 75-yard drive to Rex Burkhead’s 2-yard touchdown run in a 37-31 victory Sunday for the AFC championship.

The drive, during which New England (13-5) had three third-down conversions, was reminiscent of when the Patriots beat Atlanta in the only Super Bowl to go to OT two years ago.

“Overtime, on the road against a great team,” Brady said.  “They had no quit. Neither did we. We played our best football at the end. I don’t know, man, I’m tired. That was a hell of a game.”

Awaiting them in Atlanta are the Los Angeles Rams, who won 26-23 in overtime in New Orleans for the NFC championship. The Rams (15-3) last made the Super Bowl in 2002 while based in St. Louis, losing to the Patriots.

New England benefited from two critical replay reviews and made its ninth Super Bowl with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach.

“This is crazy,” said Brady, who was 30 of 46 for 348 yards. “What a game.”

It’s the first time both conference title games went to OT. The last time both visitors won conference championship matches was 2012; New England was 3-5 on the road this season.

“We knew what our record was, but we didn’t let that dictate us,” said defensive end Trey Flowers, who led a staunch charge on Patrick Mahomes. “Whatever happened in the regular season happened. We came out and did it when it counted.”

Several times, the Patriots appeared to have it won, only to see Kansas City (13-5) come back in spectacular fashion.

Brady, at 41 already the oldest quarterback to have played in a Super Bowl, drove New England 65 yards in 1:24 to Burkhead’s go-ahead 4-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left in regulation. That was enough, though, for his far younger counterpart, the 23-year-old All-Pro Mahomes, to take the Chiefs 48 yards to Harrison Butker’s 39-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to force overtime.

It was a sizzling offensive showing in the fourth quarter after defence had been in charge most of the way. Indeed, the Chiefs were blanked in the opening half for the first time all season.

And they never saw the ball in overtime, which along with the two replay decisions might call into play NFL rules and officiating.

“I thought if we got the chance,” Mahomes said,  “we’d score.”

Mahomes finished 16 of 31 for 295 yards and three touchdowns.

New England became the third franchise to reach three Super Bowls in a row. And Belichick now has 30 postseason victories, more than Bill Walsh and Don Shula combined. That Hall of Fame coaching duo also won five Super Bowls; Belichick shoots for No. 6 in two weeks.

An apparent muff by the usually reliable Julian Edelman on a fourth-quarter punt return was overturned by a lengthy video review, prompting raucous booing and some demonstrative arguing from the usually laid-back Andy Reid. Edelman definitely touched his next try when Brady’s pass deflected off his hands directly to safety Daniel Sorensen. His 22-yard return set up Kansas City at the Patriots 23, and Damien Williams, who scored three times, had no defender near him down the left sideline for the score that made it 21-17, KC’s first lead.

Back came Brady, engineering a 75-yard march on which Chris Hogan’s diving one-handed catch on third down appeared to touch the ground. Reid challenged _ and lost.

Minutes later, rookie Sony Michel scored from the 10, his second TD of the night.

With 3 1/2 minutes remaining, there was plenty of time for more points. Williams’ 2-yard run gave the Chiefs a 28-24 edge that New England took up most of the remaining time overcoming. The Patriots were helped by an offside call on linebacker Dee Ford that negated an interception which would have clinched a KC victory.

Butker’s field goal sent it to overtime.

“We put ourselves in position to win the game, that’s what makes it so tough,” Reid said.  “If it’s a rout, you chalk it up to experience. But this one right here, where you’re in it to win it, that’s a tough deal. We gave ourselves every opportunity to do it, and they got us in overtime.”

The Chiefs hadn’t been blanked in any half this season, but they barely were a presence in the first 30 minutes, when they had the ball for 8:53. Mahomes was sacked three times for 43 yards; Kansas City’s record-setting attack ran only 16 plays and gained a mere 32 yards.

The zero disappeared quickly in the third quarter. Finally given solid protection, Mahomes unleashed a 54-yard completion to Sammy Watkins over All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He then hit another All-Pro, tight end Travis Kelce, on a slant to make it 14-7 _ and awaken the slumbering crowd.

But one of several bad decisions further damaged Kansas City when Tyreek Hill, the All-Pro flex player, retreated deep in Chiefs territory returning a punt. Eventually, KC had to punt and the Patriots had excellent field position, setting up a 47-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

Not one to be shy about innovation, Mahomes completely sidearmed a throw to Watkins for 10 yards on a third down, then a dump-off to Williams covered 33. Kelce drew a pass interference call on J.C. Jackson in the end zone, and Mahomes threw a strike to Williams for the score.

Although the Chiefs were on their heels much of the night, they were down only 17-14.

LOPSIDED FIRST HALF

Just as they did last week in manhandling the Chargers early and cruising, the Patriots delivered a message _ and a touchdown on their first series. It was a classic, covering 80 yards in 15 plays and using up more than eight minutes. Michel, who had 113 yards rushing, scored from the 1.

But Brady made a rare mistake on the next dominant drive. His third-down pass from the 1 for Rob Gronkowski was short and Reggie Ragland picked it off.

Brady had never thrown an interception from the 1.

When the Chiefs finally got a trademark big play on Mahomes’ 42-yard completion to Hill, it went for naught. Mahomes overthrew a wide-open Williams near the end zone, then took a 14-yard sack to send KC out of field goal range.

Big mistake.

The Patriots kept dominating the line of scrimmage, Brady took them 90 yards and connected with Phillip Dorsett over sloppy coverage by Steven Nelson to make it 14-0 with 27 seconds left in the half.

STATS

In Week 6, the Patriots beat the Chiefs 43-40 in a game featuring 946 yards total offence. This one had 814. … New England has played in eight straight AFC title games, but this is its first road playoff win since the 2006 season vs. San Diego. … Brady matched former Patriots K Adam Vinatieri, now with the Colts, for the most wins in NFL history (236). … Kansas City’s defence tied for first in the NFL with 52 sacks, but had none on Sunday. New England had four.

COIN TOSS

Reid’s decision to defer after winning the opening coin toss proved unwise as New England had 22 plays in the opening period, and Kansas City had seven. Then, the Chiefs lost the more important toss before overtime. Less than five minutes later, they were headed to the off-season.

Chubb Announces Key Cyber Security Trends to Watch in 2019

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.Jan. 8, 2019 /CNW/ — As business decision-makers look to the year ahead, it is critical to address existing and new cyber security concerns. To help with that process, Chubb has launched its first annual cyber security predictions, which focus on the top risks in 2019 and beyond.

“The cyber risk landscape is constantly evolving — it’s vital to stay on top of potential risks as they emerge,” said Michael Tanenbaum, Head of Chubb Cyber North America. “We expect shifts in the regulatory landscape, changes to the fundamental models of cyber crime, and additional risks brought on by the explosive growth in Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It is critical to stay abreast of these things in 2019.”

“Throughout the years, we have seen everything from Y2K to today’s mega-breaches and the evolution of cyber crime,” said Bill Stewart, Division President of Chubb’s Global Cyber Risk practice. “We continue to stay ahead of the latest cyber risks to help our clients protect against and respond to an ever-increasing cyber threat.”

Chubb, an innovator in the cyber insurance space, has more than 20 years of experience writing cyber insurance policies. Based on that experience, the Chubb Cyber practice has issued the following three cyber security predictions for 2019 and beyond:

Cybersecurity regulation and enforcement will increase and focus more on actions taken by businesses pre-incident,in addition to post-incident protocol.

Until now, regulatory efforts have largely focused on steps businesses must take after a cyber incident, including fixing vulnerabilities, notifying law enforcement, and notifying customers. Chubb anticipates this will change as lawmakers also focus regulatory attention on companies’ data collection and data usage practices, as well as on the actions that organizations should take to better prevent a cyber incident from occurring in the first place. This phenomenon has already begun to take hold in the United States with laws such as the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Cybersecurity Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act, which have put new obligations on organizations to not only protect the information they collect, but also to ensure that they are allowed to collect such information, that they are using that information legally, and that they remain responsible for that information when they share it with a third party.

Additionally, this trend has been seen globally, which impacts many more businesses now than ever before.  The internet and virtual connection has provided great opportunity to many organizations, but it could also be subjecting them to the laws of the jurisdictions in which their new customers reside.  Thus, organizations not only need to ensure that they are in compliance with the laws of the state in which they physically operate, but also determine if they are subject to the laws of the locations where they virtually operate.  In the coming years, organizations of all sizes can expect to see increased data regulation in the United States and abroad, which will focus on data privacy, data use, as well as data security.

Crime does pay, and business is booming: the business model of cyber crime will tilt heavily toward direct monetization attacks.

During the past 20 years, the dark market has become saturated with private records and personally identifiable information (PII). In 2019, rather than seeking additional PII, cyber criminals will prioritize attacks that result in direct monetization as they operationalize PII that they’ve already obtained. In order to pursue these types of attacks, criminals will continue to employ ransomware.

Already a threat on the rise, ransomware will continue to grow and will remain a top cyber threat for the next five years, and will become even more destructive and costly. Social engineering financial fraud also will ramp up, and cryptojacking — the unauthorized use of someone’s computer to mine cryptocurrency — will be employed heavily by cyber criminals.

Cyber criminals will target individuals just as much as businesses as billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices come online.

As billions of additional IoT devices come online during the next year, cyber criminals will have even more avenues to target individuals. As device use overlaps between enterprise and individual, we will see more targeted ransomware and phishing attacks. Video and audio capabilities on devices — from smartphones to refrigerators, smart assistant devices, and nanny-cams— will help cyber criminals gather personal information and images. Bad actors can gain access to businesses through personal devices — particularly when businesses allow individuals to connect with their personal devices through an enterprise server. As an increasing number of IoT devices come online, businesses will need to monitor vigilantly to intercept and short-circuit cyber risks.

As always, business leaders should look to defend their companies from cyber attacks rather than react to cyber attacks. As cyber threats evolve, cyber insurance will play a key role in the awareness, preparedness, and resiliency of governments, corporations, and individuals.

To learn more, visit www.chubb.com/cyber. Here you will find a host of cyber-related resources, including access to The Chubb Cyber IndexSM, which provides real-time access to proprietary Chubb claims data and insight into current cyber threats and how you can protect your company against them.

About Chubb:
Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and the largest commercial insurer in the United States. With operations in 54 countries and territories, Chubb provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. As an underwriting company, we assess, assume and manage risk with insight and discipline. We service and pay our claims fairly and promptly. The company is also defined by its extensive product and service offerings, broad distribution capabilities, exceptional financial strength and local operations globally. Parent company Chubb Limited is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Chubb maintains executive offices in Zurich, New York, London and other locations, and employs approximately 31,000 people worldwide. Additional information can be found at: chubb.com.

SOURCE Chubb

3 money tasks you need to do right now

By Liz Weston

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Most financial to-do lists focus on what you need to get done by Dec. 31, but there’s also a brief window early in the new year to save yourself some significant cash. Here are three tasks to consider doing now:

1. AVOID TAX PENALTIES

If you live in a high-tax area, have a bunch of children or otherwise take a lot of deductions, you may face an unpleasant surprise on April 15. It won’t just be a big tax bill. You may also face penalties for not having withheld enough taxes in 2018.

Some people  “are going to be in really sad shape,” says Cari Weston (no relation), director of tax practices and ethics for the American Institute of CPAs .

Taxe experts say many people are still unaware of how many tax rules have changed. Personal exemptions no longer exist, for example, which can be a problem for people with many dependents. People also can only deduct up to $10,000 of state, local and property taxes combined, when there used to be no limit.

Free income tax calculators can help you estimate your tax bill, or you can turn to a tax pro.You may face a penalty essentially interest on the amount you should have paid, but didn’t  if you’ll owe more than $1,000 on April 15 , Weston says. But there may still be time to avoid it.

Most people can dodge the penalty if their withholding in 2018 at least equaled the total tax they owed the year before (that’s the amount shown on line 63 of your 1040 form for 2017). People with adjusted gross incomes over $150,000 must have withheld at least 110 per cent of the previous year’s tax.

Those who withheld too little can still avoid the penalty by making an estimated tax payment by Jan. 15. Instructions are on the IRS’ payment page .

2. CONSIDER FRONT-LOADING YOUR MEDICAL EXPENSES

Scheduling routine health appointments and screenings early in the year helps make sure they get done. You could catch problems before they get bigger and more expensive.

Front-loading your costs can also help if you have big medical expenses later in the year. Most health insurance comes with out-of-pocket maximums, which is the most you’re expected to pay in a year counting copayments, deductibles and coinsurance amounts but not counting premiums. The average out-of-pocket maximum for employer-provided health plans was $3,872 for a single person in 2018, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Once you hit your plan’s limit, your insurance typically starts picking up the entire bill for medical care for the rest of the year.

If you have a flexible spending account for medical care through your employer, draining it early in the year can be a good plan. Although payments for FSAs are deducted from your paycheque throughout the year, you don’t have to contribute the money before you can spend it, says Sander Domaszewicz , principal at consulting firm Mercer. You can submit claims and be reimbursed for the full amount you’re scheduled to contribute for the year (up to $2,700 in 2019 ) at any time. If you lose your job or quit, you don’t have to pay back the difference between what you’ve contributed and what you’ve spent.

3. SET UP (OR ADJUST) YOUR SAVINGS BUCKETS

“Savings buckets” are savings accounts for a specific purpose, such as vacations, property taxes, life insurance premiums, car repairs and so on. You figure out roughly how much money you’ll need and when, then set up automatic transfers so the money is there when you need it. Having the cash on hand means you don’t have to charge it (and pay high credit card interest rates) or take out expensive loans.

Some people who do this have a single savings account at a traditional bank, using a spreadsheet to keep track of how much has been accumulated for each purpose. But online banks make it easier and more intuitive. These banks typically allow you to set up multiple sub-accounts, with labels you choose, and don’t charge monthly fees or require minimum balances.

If you’re already saving for non-monthly expenses, see if you need to tweak the amounts. Property taxes typically go up every year, for example, but you may have to save less for car repairs if you recently bought a newer vehicle.

A few minutes spent on these chores now could save you money, time and stress throughout 2019.

Insurers sue California utility over wildfire damages

By Jonathan J. Cooper

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. _ Several insurance companies have filed lawsuits blaming Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for a deadly California wildfire that destroyed 14,000 homes and triggered billions of dollars in insurance claims.

The lawsuits filed by Allstate, State Farm, USAA and their subsidiaries come on top of several other cases filed by victims of the Camp Fire, which devastated the towns of Paradise, Magalia and Concow north of Sacramento after it started Nov. 8.

Investigators have not pinpointed a cause for the fire. But the insurance companies note in their lawsuits that flames ignited near the site of a transmission-line irregularity reported by the utility. They also note a potential second ignition point involving PG&E distribution lines.

Under California law, PG&E is held entirely liable if lawyers can prove the fire is linked to the utility’s power lines or other equipment a fact that sent shares of the company tumbling following the start of the fire.

Following a series of deadly fires in 2017 in Northern California’s wine country, PG&E executives and lobbyists tried to convince state lawmakers to change the legal standard and reduce the company’s liability. Lawmakers declined, but they allowed the company to pass along some of the costs from the 2017 fires to its customers in hopes of sparing it from bankruptcy. The law does not help the company for the 2018 blazes.

The lawsuits were filed last month in Sacramento County Superior Court. They were first reported by the Sacramento Business Journal.

“We are aware of lawsuits regarding the Camp Fire,” Lynsey Paulo, a PG&E spokeswoman, said in a statement.  “Our focus continues to be on assessing infrastructure to further enhance safety and helping our customers recover and rebuild.”

PG&E, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with more than 5 million customers in Northern and Central California, is facing legal and regulatory challenges on a number of fronts, including the potential for criminal charges.

The California attorney general told a judge last week that PG&E could face charges as serious as involuntary manslaughter or murder if investigators determine that reckless operation or maintenance of power equipment caused any recent wildfires in the state.

A federal judge overseeing a case that resulted in a criminal conviction for the company following a 2010 pipeline explosion has asked PG&E to explain any role it may have had in the Camp Fire. The judge could impose new requirements on the utility if it’s found to have violated its probation in the pipeline case.

U.S. and Britain to Sign Pact After Brexit to Bring Stability to Insurance Industry

Members of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office and the U.S. Treasury Department made a statement on December 11, 2018 that they have intentions to sign a post-Brexit bilateral insurance agreement with Britain that will bring regulatory stability and continuity to the industry.

According to officials the Agreement will be consistent with a similar one signed with the EU back in 2017.

Unless Brexit is somehow reversed, Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

The timing of the announcement is not a coincidence. The U.S. Congress requires a 90-day notification period before it can be signed and officially put into effect.

U.S. officials say the pending agreement will affirm the U.S. state-based system of insurance regulation and should help in the competitiveness of U.S. insurance and reinsurance firms.

Antony Philliopson, Britain’s Trade Commissioner for North America, welcomed the announcement and said it’s an example of the work the British government is doing to ensure business continuity with the U.S. and said they will continue studying and looking into further bilateral trade ties.

Avoid costly mistakes with the car buyer’s checklist

Avoid costly mistakes with the car buyer’s checklist

By Philip Reed

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

In the excitement of buying a new (or used) car it’s easy to forget critical details that wind up costing you money. I learned this over more than a decade of buying dozens of test cars for the automotive site Edmunds. No matter how much experience I got, I always consulted my car-buying checklist and updated it based on what I learned.

Once you’ve decided on the type of car you want, the buying process can be divided into two sections: research and dealmaking. This breaks a seemingly overwhelming job into smaller, more doable tasks.

Here is your car-buying checklist the crucial steps to help you get the wheels you want at the right price.

RESEARCH

These steps help you locate the specific vehicle you want to buy and strengthen your position when it’s time to negotiate.

1. CONFIGURE YOUR CAR. Go to the carmaker’s website and decide which model (often called the “trim level”) you want and what options you need.

2. CHECK PRICING. Using car sites like Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book or TrueCar, find the car’s real market value price, which is what others are paying for it.

3. LOOK FOR INCENTIVES. Check the carmaker’s site for incentives, such as customer cash back or low-interest financing, on the model you want.

4. LOCATE YOUR CAR. Search the inventory of local dealerships to find the exact car you want to buy. Write down the stock number or vehicle identification number (VIN).

5. CHECK YOUR CREDIT. Your credit score will give you a sense of the interest rate you’re likely to get. This is especially important for borrowers with fair to poor credit (generally below 690), who may face higher rates.

6. RUN THE NUMBERS. Use an auto loan calculator to estimate your monthly car payment to ensure that it fits your budget. For the car price, you can use the true market value.

7. GET PREAPPROVED FINANCING. Apply for a car loan before going to the dealership so you’ll know your interest rate. You can still use dealership financing if they can beat the preapproval rate.

8. ROUND UP YOUR PAPERWORK. You’ll need to bring the following to the dealership:

– Preapproved loan information.

– Driver’s license.

– Proof of insurance.

– Funds for your down payment.

If you’re trading in your old car, you’ll also need the current title, registration and loan information.

DEALMAKING

If you hate haggling, consider emailing the dealership’s internet manager for price quotes. But assuming you’re going old school and negotiating in person, here’s what to do:

1. TEST-DRIVE THE CAR. Even if you’ve already decided on a car, test drive it again to verify your choice and confirm it has the options you selected.

2. START THE NEGOTIATION. Tell the salesperson you’ve shopped around and priced similar models. Then, ask for the dealership’s best price. If they won’t name a price, make an opening offer at least $1,000 below the true market value price.

3. SEND A MESSAGE. If the salesperson says  “I’ll take your offer to my boss,” don’t wait meekly in the sales office. Instead, be unpredictable. Wander around the dealership. Believe me, they’ll find you in a hurry.

4. MAKE A COUNTEROFFER. If your first offer isn’t accepted, consider raising your price by $250 until you reach an agreement or the true market value price.

5. GET AN OUT-THE-DOOR PRICE. Before you agree to any deal, ask for an out-the-door price with a breakdown of fees and any extras.

6. BE READY FOR UPSELLS. Once you reach an agreement with your salesperson, the finance and insurance manager will draw up the contract. But first, you’ll be pitched extras, such as an extended warranty, paint protection and anti-theft devices. Be ready to say “no” or buy these later.

7. REVIEW YOUR CONTRACT. Check the contract for any add-ons you didn’t ask for. Make sure the numbers match what you agreed to in the sales office and your own estimates.

8. GET IT IN WRITING. If anything is missing, like spare keys or an owner’s manual, or if any work is promised on the car, get it in writing. This is called a  “due bill.”

9. CHECK THE GAS GAUGE. New cars are sold with a full tank of gas. Check the fuel level before you leave the lot.

There are other ways to buy cars, but this checklist covers the most common dealership transaction. Keep it with you as protection and a money-saver the next time you go car shopping.

_______

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet . Phil Reed is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: preed?nerdwallet.com .

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