Spring Home Maintenance is Here - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Spring Home Maintenance is Here

Spring Home Maintenance is Here

Spring is here! After a very long and hard Michigan winter, we are excited to see green grass, buds on the trees, and spring flowers. As you can well imagine, there have been many claims over the winter months and recent spring storms.

Did you know that there may be some causes of a loss that may not be covered by your home insurance? I started thinking, “when was the last time I read my insurance policy?” Have you read yours? Did you know that if your roof is in need of repair (wear and tear), a water or wind loss may not be covered?

As a homeowner, we have certain responsibilities to maintain the property that we insure for claims to be paid. A good rule of thumb is that home insurance is not a maintenance policy, but a catastrophe policy.

Now that warmer weather is here and the snow is melted away, I encourage you to look carefully at your roof or have someone look at it for you. Is the flashing done correctly and sealed? Are the gutters and fascia secured properly?

Situations can vary, but the bottom line is if a property is not well maintained it can make a claim process very difficult and frustrating. When in doubt regarding specific coverage we recommend contacting your claims department via phone, email, or sometimes “click-to-chat”. Insurance companies will be happy to discuss potential claims and coverage issues, regardless of the situation.

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Are School Supplies Covered by Insurance - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

What School Supplies are Covered by Insurance?

In those lazy days of summer, it’s easy to forget about the school supplies needed for that quickly approaching fall season. Some of you may be busy buying school supplies, school clothes, getting ready to send kids off to college while squeezing in one last trip to the beach or pool.

School supplies are not cheap these days.

Have you checked with your home or renters insurance to see if that TI-85 scientific calculator is covered? What about the new Apple Mac Book, Ipad, or smartphone you just invested in? What about the van load of stuff your college student is taking with them to their dorm?

Most insurance policies offer limited coverage for electronic items unless a special endorsement is purchased or they are specifically listed. Some policies offer a portion of your home’s property coverage for the things your college student is taking with them.

Check with your insurance agent to see if you are properly covered so you can send your kids off to school with this peace of mind. Have a great school year!

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Insurance Tips for Upcoming Winter Months

Insurance Tips for Upcoming Winter Months

Insurance Tips for Upcoming Winter Months

I know we don’t want to talk about winter coming but we do live in Michigan so it can come at any time, so maybe it’s time to start preparing.

For your home maybe check to see if your furnace is running properly, trees are trimmed away from the house, check your gutters. Clean out your dryer vent, install a carbon monoxide detector, and if you have a wood-burning chimney make sure it is cleaned.

For your auto insurance consider quoting how much it would be to put full coverage on your PLPD car to make sure possible winter accidents are covered. Maybe even consider adding towing for those slippery roads that send you in a snowbank.

Just a few things to think about as we go into the fall season to make sure you are prepared for the upcoming Michigan winter.

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Halloween Driving Tips

At a glance: Help protect trick-or-treaters by following these driving safety tips on Halloween, or on the night your community hosts Halloween activities. Be especially careful between 4 and 8 p.m., when most severe vehicle/young pedestrian collisions happen.

Drive slowly, and don’t pass stopped vehicles. The driver might be dropping off children.

Park your mobile phone. Avoid distractions by waiting until you’ve stopped to call, text, or surf. Get more mobile phone safety tips.

Watch for children darting into the street. Kids can cross the street anywhere, and most young pedestrian deaths happen at spots other than intersections.

Yield to young pedestrians. Children might not stop, either because they don’t see your vehicle approaching or don’t know how to safely cross the street.

Communicate with other drivers. Always use your turn signals. And if you have to pull over to drop off or pick up your kids, turn on your hazard lights.

And, to keep your own trick-or-treaters safe:
Teach them how to safely cross streets. They should look both ways and cross only at corners and crosswalks.

Consider indoor community Halloween programs for younger kids. Some communities also offer to help you inspect your kids’ treats to make sure they’re safe to eat.

Brighten them up. Give them flashlights and glow sticks, and/or use reflective tape on their costumes, so drivers can see them.

BROUGHT to you by PROGRESSIVE

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Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Open Enrollment

OK, so maybe this entry isn’t so much as a blog as it is me just unloading my brain…. and with open enrollment starting tomorrow, it’s about all I can think about (sorry Dawn… I’ll get working on that ‘honey-do list soon!!).

Affordable Care Act: Being able to choose new health insurance plans as early as tomorrow, just makes me think of how much of a disaster it was last year. We are all just hoping like heck that the site works better this year!!! PLEASE!!! We are being told that it’s much more streamlined and shorter than last year’s. We’ll soon see! We did sign someone up yesterday and were told that it would be on the new platform, but it didn’t appear to be very different at all. hmmm…

Last year, buying a plan on the Marketplace was not a very fun event. But we did our best to help folks as best as possible! We’re here to do that again this year and are acquiring quite a bit of expertise, so we feel confident that we can help!

This year, the Blue Cross and Priority rates are closer! They still appear to have a lower price overall. And if you’re eligible for a subsidy, don’t forget that you MUST sign up on the Marketplace, meaning that you can’t purchase a plan from United Health Care, for example, since they are not “playing” ON the Marketplace this year in the counties that we work within Michigan.

Our office is doing the actual process of signing everyone up on the website. She can whip through those pages pretty proficiently now! And she knows many of the stopper/pitfall answers to some of the quirkier questions asked so make sure you call us to get signed up!

FYI, ACA means the Affordable Care Act and it applies to all Americans. Some plans are grandfathered and do not need to comply. I don’t dare claim to know ALL there is about this, but it’s interesting to note that some companies are ditching all pre-ACA plans now and some are going on until at least the end of 2017. that goes for Group AND Individual. Oh, and when I say “individual”, I just mean non-group… so that means that it’s not offered through an employer. The individual does not mean ‘just one person’… it can… but it means ‘families’ too.

Have a great day! Andy

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Here Comes Winter Again

As of December 21 – the official first day of winter – approaches, we all know what is likely to come with it. Snow! We live in a state shaped like a mitten, stands to reason that we will get snow. We have already had a dose of winter weather, heavy snow, and even some snow days! Are you prepared? We know from experiences last winter that snow can build up quickly and be really heavy. The excessive weight from snow and ice can lead to structural stress and damage to roofs and walls, even collapse. Please take precautions to reduce the amount of snow on your roof. Especially flat roofs. Just like snow build-up, a snow and rain cycle can lead to ice dams. Below are a few steps that you can take to help prevent ice dams from forming, brought to you by Fremont Insurance:

  • Keep gutters and down spouts clear of debris, snow and ice, so melting roof snow can flow
  • Keep snow on your roof to a minimum. Roof rakes let you stand on the ground to safely pull the snow off the roof.
  • Evaluate attic insulation and ventilation. Good airflow is essential to a cool dry attic.

Stay warm. Stay safe. Enjoy and be awed by the amazing weather changes we experience in this great state!

Merry Christmas & Blessed New Year!

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Google Takes on Auto Insurance - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Google Takes on Auto Insurance

Is Google taking over auto insurance???

Big in the news is that you can now get auto insurance quotes from Google (CA only so far). They’ll shop a bunch of different companies and show you all the rates, then you can choose a policy and buy it. Pretty cool, eh? Many experts are kind of freaking out about how this will affect the independent agent and if it is the beginning of our demise! I absolutely beg to differ!!

Here’s (partly) why: When google asks a question “What liability limits do you want” and you see options of ‘state minimum’, ‘100/300’, or ‘500CSL’, do you know what to choose? And more importantly, WHY you should make a certain choice? An independent agent can help you answer that question. An independent agent can also help you make strategic decisions on deciding whether to decline a specific coverage. We are your partner in helping you get a policy that doesn’t over or under-insure you. Google also has tons of analytical data, such as speed limits, crash statistics, traffic stats, etc, which should help make it be able to estimate a price for insurance if they ever actually decided to sell auto insurance themselves.

But another great thing about independent agencies is that we can sell many other products along with auto insurance! Such as home, health, life, or business insurance. So, it makes sense for a person to keep all their insurance in one place, to take advantage of “multi-policy” discounts, and even just for simple ease of doing business. So, the customer doesn’t have to keep track of lots of phone numbers of places to call for insurance!! This is just the tip of the iceberg on this topic! But it’s definitely an interesting topic to see how certain groups are responding. Have a great day!


Thanks, Andy

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Animals in the Spring

Animals in the Spring

Remember: It’s getting warm out and that means that more and more animals will be on the move. So, stay alert. Pay attention to “deer crossing” signs. Scan down the road and off to each side. Be especially watchful in areas near woods and water. If you see one deer, there are probably several others nearby. Be especially vigilant during peak season. Though collisions can happen any time of year, fall is the peak time for deer-car crashes because it’s both hunting and mating seasons, forcing deer to roam outside their normal territory.

Use headlights smartly. At night, use high beams when possible to illuminate the road’s edges. If you see a deer far ahead, flick the brights on and off multiple times: Deer tend to fixate on headlights, so flashing them may cause the animal to scurry away. Watch out at mealtime. Pay particular attention at dusk and dawn, when these animals usually venture out to eat. Brake as necessary.

If you think you have time to avoid hitting the animal, reduce speed, tap the brakes to warn drivers behind you, and sound your horn. If there’s no vehicle close behind you, brake hard. Don’t swerve. If a collision seems inevitable, don’t veer off to avoid the animal. Your risk of injury may be greater if you do. Maintain control of the vehicle. Report the accident to the police and your insurance company.

by Dawn

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Unique Michigan Vacation Spots - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Unique Michigan Vacation Spots

Unique Michigan Vacation Spots – Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Can you believe it’s already August? Soon enough kids will be off to school, sports seasons will begin and all the beautiful green leaves will turn to hues of orange, yellow, and red. But, until then you still have time to hit up a few of Michigan’s unique vacation spots starting with Silver Lake.

About 2 hours north of Holland, Silver Lake has not only a picturesque lake for swimming, boating, and sunset watching but also dunes for buggies, trucks, quads, or jeeps; if you’re part of that club. With many cabins for rent and a few campgrounds, there is bound to be something for everyone.

A must on any unique Michigan vacation spots list has to be Mackinac Island. Accessible by ferry this island boasts many delicious fudge shops and quaint bed and breakfasts but NO CARS. That’s right, with no vehicles on the island (outside of public safety vehicles) you can ride around the island on bicycles or horse-drawn carriages without city traffic to slow you down.

And we can’t forget about the great city of Grand Rapids! Close to beaches and baseball, art and amazing food, Grand Rapids has the big city feel without having to leave West Michigan.

With only a few weeks left of Summer, there is no time to waste! Get out and enjoy our great state!

posted by Autumn

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Flood Insurance - Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Flood Insurance

Many people think of flood insurance as only for those who live right next to a large river, lake, or ocean. Did you know that flood insurance can be purchased by almost anyone, whether you are in a flood zone or not? Your typical home insurance policy does not cover claims associated with a flood. So, what is the definition of a flood you ask? A flood is “a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from Overflow of inland or tidal waters; Unusual and rapid accumulation or run-off of surface waters from any source; mudflow; Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or a similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood.” (FEMA NFIP)

That definition doesn’t sound like it affects Michigan too much right? Wrong! Michigan ranked in the top 10 states for the total number of claims filed and the total claim payments for 2014. The NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) reports that in 2014 there were 495 claims filed in the State of Michigan with total claim payments totaling $8,816,751. That’s Michigan only! The NFIP paid out more than $345 billion total in flood insurance claims in 2014.

Is flood insurance right for everyone, not necessarily, but it is definitely worth looking into to protect your family and your investment. It’s important to know what is covered under your regular home insurance policy and what would be covered under a flood insurance policy. Just a couple of inches of floodwater can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

The average flood insurance policy costs about $700 per year and there are a few different programs that homeowners fall into or qualify for. Every home location is different so it is important to check out flood rates for your specific location and not base your decision on your neighbor’s findings; your’s might be very different.

I’ll blog next time about what is covered and what is not covered under a flood insurance policy. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions or inquiries.
Tammy Kaptein

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