Calculate How Much Life Insurance You Need – Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Calculate How Much Life Insurance You Need

Calculate how much life insurance you need

Life insurance is an important part of planning for the future. In your absence, life insurance can help protect your family’s finances, allow your small business to live on, and give you something to leave behind for your loved ones or a favorite charity.

Many people understand the importance of life insurance.

According to LIMRA, 80% of consumers believe that most people need life insurance and as many as 132 million Americans rely on life insurance to protect their financial security. But when it comes to actually purchasing a policy, the confusion sinks in and one big question often comes to mind: how much life insurance coverage do I need?

A life insurance policy isn’t “one-size-fits-all.”

Everyone has a unique financial situation, so coverage needs are just as unique. To answer this question, you’ll need to get your own personal estimate. Although meeting with your life insurance agent will give you the most accurate results, there are a few different methods you can use to get started.

One way to determine the costs you’ll leave behind is through the “DIME” method. DIME stands for:

D – Outstanding Debts
I – Income Replacement
M – Mortality
E – Education

To get an estimate of how much coverage you will need, take some time to list out all of your expenses that fall under these four categories.


Outstanding debt can be anything from outstanding student loans, to money you owe on a credit card. You also want to be sure your family can keep their home and stay there for years to come, so be sure to factor in your mortgage into your life insurance estimate. Regardless of how the debt was accumulated, you don’t want these expenses falling on the shoulders of your loved ones.


How will your absence affect your family’s finances? Income replacement calculates just that—the amount of coverage your loved ones would need to continue living a similar lifestyle. Consider day-to-day living costs, as well as other types of spending, like childcare. And keep in mind that inflation will likely cause costs to increase. Don’t forget to factor in income that comes from any investments, in addition to the income that comes from your job.


The mortality portion of “DIME” covers all final expenses, including funeral costs and other expenditures associated with end-of-life. When estimating final expenses, you may want to leave a little wiggle room for costs that you may not anticipate or be able to determine an exact number for, such as unpaid medical bills. There are also many costs and taxes that come along with settling your estate, so keep that in mind as well.


If you have children who are in or are planning on going to college or even a spouse who may want to go back to school, consider the costs of their education when estimating your life insurance policy.

Once you add up all of these expenses, you may end up with a pretty big amount. However, there are a few items that you can subtract from this number, such as the amount of coverage on a group life insurance policy, funds from your retirement plan, or any other savings you’ve accumulated.

In addition to the DIME exercise, there are many online tools you can use to help you estimate your needs. For instance, Life Happens provides a nifty online calculator for estimating these costs. Enter all of your information in the form, and click on the question marks next to each form field for additional tips and information. Once you’ve filled in all of the fields, Life Happens will instantly estimate how much life insurance you need.

While the DIME method and Life Happens’ calculator are helpful tools, they cannot replace the knowledgeable insight and helpful advice of an independent insurance agent. An agent will speak with you about all aspects of your life, and work with you to find the right amount of coverage for your specific needs, contact Andy Simmons, our Life Insurance specialist, and get the coverage you need to protect your loved ones’ financial future.

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Covid-19 Consumer Alert – Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Covid-19 Consumer Alert

Information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing rapidly.  The information below consumer alert may be updated frequently.

As Michigan residents and businesses implement the measures outlined in Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders aimed at mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus, questions may arise as to how insurance and financial services may be impacted. The information below will aid consumers and industry professionals in addressing these concerns.

Consumer Health Insurance Consumer Alert

Health Insurance

If you’ve recently lost your employer group health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period. For additional information, visit DIFS’ Health Insurance Consumer Assistance Program (HICAP) website at or call 877-999-6442.

Consumers enrolled in a fully insured health plan may be eligible for expanded COVID-19 coverage such as:

  • No cost for medically necessary diagnostic testing or treatment of COVID-19
  • Increased access to prescriptions
  • Prior authorization waivers
  • Expanded access to telehealth services

For more information on the benefits offered under your health plan, contact your insurer directly.

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National Bike To Work Month – Shield Insurance Agency Blog

National Bike To Work Month

National Bike To Work Month

May is National Bike To Work Month, promoted by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to give biking a try.

Bike to Work Week 2020 will take place September 21-27, 2020. Bike to Work Day is Tuesday, September 22!

This National Bike To Work Month will necessarily be different. With a focus on well-being and connection, we’re highlighting how #BikesUnite and benefits physical and mental health. Whether you’re riding for fun, fitness or with family, or taking essential trips to work or shop, you are part of our movement for safer streets, connected communities, a healthier planet, and happier people.
As a national sponsor, the League provides resources to help you plan an event in your area, and each year the number and diversity of National Bike To Work Month celebrations continue to grow, accelerating the momentum around bicycling nationwide.


In other years, National Bike Month is a success because of the countless, diverse local events organized by dedicated bicyclists in their communities, organizations, and workplaces. In 2020, we encourage you to promote biking and connect with others in the movement virtually. Step one: go for a solo bike ride, step two: share your experience on social media with #BikesUnite. 


For additional assistance or questions, please contact

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Financial Resources For Covid-19 – Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Financial Resources For COVID-19

Financial Resources And Relief For Those Affected By COVID-19

Here’s where to go for financial resources if you’ve lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic. By Casey Bond 04/24/2020 05:26 pm EDT | Updated April 27, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has challenged us all in ways never imagined. Not only does constant danger lurk of contracting COVID-19, but our daily routines have been turned upside down. It certainly doesn’t help that the virus has also placed enormous financial pressure on workers and businesses owners.

If your income has been affected by the crisis, it can be overwhelming to figure out which bills to pay and where to go for help. The good news is that many financial resources are available if you know where to look. is a great place to start, according to Leslie Tayne, a debt resolution lawyer and author of the book “Life & Debt: A Fresh Approach to Achieving Financial Wellness.” “The website helps navigate you to state and federal level benefits, including unemployment insurance, job placement and training, and more,” she said.

For legal assistance, check out your local bar association’s website. Tayne noted that many of the associations are updating their websites with COVID-19-specific financial resources for legal help during this time. is another official government resource that contains trustworthy information, Tayne said. Its Disaster Financial Assistance page responds to commonly asked questions and provides information about the CARES Act, including such matters as stimulus checks, the expansion of unemployment benefits, home loan relief for federally backed mortgages, credit report protection, and resources for small businesses.

If you are a small business owner, Tayne said you should subscribe to updates on for the latest information regarding loans and financial assistance (although the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program ran out of money and was criticized for giving priority to businesses that needed the funding least, more funding will be available soon through a second stimulus package).

For specific financial resources assistance, many federal, state, and local programs may be able to help. The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for help covering food, bills, housing and more.

Financial Resources Help With Meals

With limited income, ensuring that you and your family have enough to eat can be a struggle. A number of resources are available to help to cut the cost of food or even provide free meals.

Discounts on food delivery: 

With stay-at-home orders in place, many people are relying on delivery services to get their meals. However, these services charge fees, which add up quickly if you’re relying on them regularly. Fortunately, dozens of companies that deliver orders from restaurants and grocery stores, as well as prepared meals, are discounting or waiving fees.

SNAP Program:

“If you lost your income and have difficulty putting food on the table, you can consider applying to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” said Gladice Gong, a personal finance blogger at Earn More Live Freely. You can apply for SNAP benefits online in most states, or at a local state or county office. “If you are eligible, you will receive SNAP benefits on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card,” Gong said. Benefits are automatically loaded to your card each month and you can use it to buy groceries at authorized food stores and retailers.


The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federal program that provides assistance to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. You’ll need to contact your state or local agency to apply; check your state’s website or call the toll-free number.

School meals: 

Millions of children rely on the National School Lunch Program for hot meals every day. But with schools closed down, many families lost access to this source of low-cost or free food. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently authorized schools to allow parents to pick up meals for their children, as long as a process was in place to verify that the food was going to eligible children. Some families have complained that their schools turned them away despite this new guidance, however. Call your child’s school to find out if you’re eligible to pick up meals.

Food banks: 

You can locate a local food bank, pantry, or soup kitchen by visiting Feeding America or Food Pantries.

Hunger hotline: Gong recommended that anyone struggling to feed themselves or their families call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273). The hotline operates Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET.

Financial Resource Assistance With Housing

Whether you rent your residence or own it, housing is likely the largest monthly expense you face. If you are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage, some relief may be available, depending on where you live and the type of housing.


No rent freezes are in place, but many jurisdictions have banned rent increases amid the pandemic. And many tenants are protected by temporary eviction moratoriums, which prevent landlords from taking renters to eviction court for unpaid rent. Under the CARES Act, moratoriums on evictions and late fees apply to all federally subsidized housing and properties financed through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the Federal Housing Administration. Citywide moratoriums are in place as well. However, this doesn’t mean that tenants don’t have to pay rent ― if necessary, they must work out a repayment plan with their landlords. Keep in mind that moratoriums are not in effect in every city.

Regardless of whether you’re protected from eviction under temporary moratoriums, you can seek out help paying rent if you don’t have the income to cover it. Visit the national Rent Assistance website for a directory of government and non-profit rental assistance agencies and organizations in your area.


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advises that homeowners who can afford to continue paying their mortgages do so. However, if you are struggling to keep up with the payments, you should immediately reach out to your lender for assistance. Similar to eviction moratoriums, the CARES Act includes a foreclosure moratorium, as well as a right to forbearance for homeowners who are experiencing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 emergency, on federally backed mortgages for up to 180 days.

Even if you don’t have a federal mortgage loan, most major banks and lenders are offering some type of mortgage payment deferment. However, it’s important to understand the terms of how any skipped payments will be made up; some lenders are simply extending the loan term to make up for the missed payments, while others are requiring a lump sum payment at the end of the deferment period. Also, be prepared for unusually long wait times when calling to speak with your lender.

Help Paying Bills

In addition to housing, you may experience issues with paying other important bills on time. Though they may not seem as urgent as housing, it’s important not to skip these bills if possible, as doing so can have serious repercussions on your credit. With poor credit, it will be much more difficult to borrow money, secure housing and open utility accounts in the future.

Electricity and gas: If you’re struggling to pay for these services, reach out to your utility company right away. Many are suspending disconnections for those who don’t pay their bills during the coronavirus crisis. Some have actually been ordered to suspend disconnections by regulators or other government officials. The Energy and Policy Institute maintains a list of service providers that have and have not suspended disconnects.

Phone and cable: FCC chairman Ajit Pai has encouraged broadband companies to participate in a “Keep Americans Connected” pledge, which asks them to not terminate service for nonpayment due to the coronavirus, as well as waive late fees and open up Wi-Fi hotspots to those who need access. Dozens of companies have taken the pledge so far.

Credit cards: If you carry credit card debt, it’s important to reach out to your issuer and ask about relief options. Many major issuers are working with customers who ask for help, including waiving late fees, deferring interest, and not reporting missed payments to credit bureaus. This guide to credit card payment relief from Wirecutter outlines what types of assistance are being offered by about a dozen major banks and how to contact them.

Student loans: Good news for federal student loan borrowers: As part of the CARES Act, payments on these loans have been automatically suspended through Sept. 30. However, if your income is still affected beyond this date, you may qualify for an income-driven repayment plan to help lower payments in line with your earnings. Financial technology company Savi has launched a free COVID-19 Student Loan Aid Tool that helps borrowers apply for the plan.

If you have private student loans, your options may be more limited, as federal protections don’t apply to private lenders. Still, your state may have instituted some protections (Massachusetts, for example, suspended private loan debt collection activities for 90 days) and many private student loan companies offer hardship programs for borrowers facing financial difficulties or job loss. Again, it’s important to speak with your lender or servicer to find out what options are available.

Financial Resources For Laid-Off Workers

Unemployment benefits were expanded under the CARES Act. Not only does the plan eliminate the waiting period to receive benefits, it also covers previously ineligible workers such as freelancers, contractors, and furloughed employees. In addition to regular unemployment benefits, workers receive an additional $600 per week for four months. Benefits were also extended by 13 weeks beyond the standard 26 weeks of state benefits, though some states offer less.

If you work in an industry hit particularly hard by the pandemic, a host of relief funds and other financial assistance may be available to you in addition to regular unemployment benefits. Below are a couple of examples of seriously affected industries ― reach out to your industry organizations to find out about additional opportunities.

Service industry: Whether you worked for a hotel, restaurant, bar, or other service industry, there’s a good chance your job status and income have been hurt by shutdowns caused by the pandemic. Several emergency relief funds exist for workers in specific industries, such as the Bartender Emergency Assistance Fund and the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Fund. Horizon Beverage maintains an up-to-date list of relief funds for hospitality, restaurant, and beverage industry workers, which you should review to find out if you might be eligible for assistance.

Freelancers: “Freelancers are one group of people who often fall between the cracks in government schemes,” said Ben Taylor, founder of HomeWorkingClub, an advice portal for freelancers. Thankfully, he said, charitable funds have been popping up, such as the Freelancers Relief Fund from the Freelancers Union and the COVID-19 Emergency Fund from Freelancer Co-Op. “As these are funded by donations, new applications tend to open and close, so it’s well worth checking such offerings regularly,” he said. You can also review this comprehensive guide to resources for freelancers, gig workers, and contractors.

Help For Small Businesses

The coronavirus stimulus package included $350 billion in emergency financial resource assistance for small businesses, including the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided forgivable loans to small businesses that promised to keep employees on their payrolls. Unfortunately, as noted, that program quickly ran out of money, with some major corporations under fire for accepting giant loans while many struggling small businesses got nothing.

If you’re the owner of a small business, you may not be out of luck, though. The second relief bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump on Friday, includes an additional $310 billion set aside for a second round of the PPP. If you plan to take advantage, it’s a good idea to be prepared to apply quickly (the application process starts on Monday at 10:30 a.m. ET). Have all your paperwork in order, and consider establishing a relationship with a bank now so the process will go more smoothly.

Other sources of federal aid for small businesses include the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance through the SBA. Additionally, many states are providing varying levels of financial assistance; Clover has a comprehensive guide to small business financial help available today.

Free Financial Advice

If you are overwhelmed by your financial situation and need guidance from a professional on how to best handle it, many organizations are providing free services. Below are a few examples of where to find free financial planning help.

Credit counseling: Consolidated Credit, a national non-profit credit counseling agency, established a free “Shutdown Hotline” to connect callers with certified credit counselors who can help with credit and debt management and housing counseling. The hotline (800-745-2513) is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET.

The Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education partnered with Wells Fargo and the Yellow Ribbon Network to launch free, unbiased financial counseling and coaching. AFCPE certified professionals are available to discuss unique financial situations, help create spending plans, provide advice on how to make the best use of the government stimulus checks, financial resources, and more. You can sign up here.

Financial planning: Many certified financial planners are also providing their services for free. For example, members of the XY Planning Network (XYPN), an organization of fee-for-service financial planners, are offering free emergency financial advice to those who have lost a job, lost income from reduced work, or taken unpaid sick leave as a result of COVID-19. You can visit XYPN’s “Find an Advisor” search portal and search under the keyword phrase “coronavirus relief” to find available CFP professionals. All advisors on the platform are available to meet virtually, regardless of a person’s location.

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, another organization of fee-only financial planners, has a pro bono committee that may be able to help.

Financial Resources For The Military

Some of the challenges faced by service members and their families are similar to what civilian counterparts face: concerns over retirement savings, budgeting, and job security, particularly for spouses who often work part-time or remote positions to supplement the family’s income, according to Jerry Quinn, chief operating officer of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association.

He also noted that hundreds of thousands of military families who were in the process of following a relocation or permanent change of station order have been forced to put their move on hold. “On top of stress and uncertainty, families in this scenario face a slew of even more urgent expenses and financial challenges, such as mortgage or rent payments for homes they are unable to move into or houseware and clothing costs to replace items that may have already been shipped to the new duty station,” he said.

The good news is that many military and veteran-focused relief organizations are providing financial resources support, including Army Emergency ReliefCoast Guard Mutual AssistanceAir Force Aid Society, and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

“These four have each been around for many years and have helped thousands of service members through difficult times,” Quinn said. “When in doubt, call these organizations directly with any questions about your situation and what assistance you may qualify for.”

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Teacher Appreciation Time – Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Teacher Appreciation Time

How to Still Make Teacher Appreciation Special, Virtually

This May, Teacher Appreciation Week is definitely going to look a little different. There won’t be any snack carts or staff luncheons, but with a little creativity, you can still make those hard-working teachers feel special. Welcome to virtual teacher appreciation:

Yard signs

We love the idea of posting signs in the yards of your staff. A lot of people are doing them for graduates, so why not teachers? Try something like, “A rock star teacher lives here!” or “I’m kind of a big deal at [SCHOOL NAME].” This is also a great way to support local businesses.

Online games

During Teacher Appreciation Week, we try to up the fun factor with trivia and games. You still can—you just have to take it online. Class Team Building is offering a weeklong game show for $45. It includes daily challenges like this: “Get anyone in this school to respond ‘LOL’ to one of your texts, but you can’t tell them beforehand that is the response you are looking for.”

Gift cards

There are plenty of gift cards you can send via email, including teacher favorites like Target and Starbucks (they currently have three fun teacher designs). This is also a good time to support local restaurants that are hurting and grab gift cards to your staff’s favorite places for takeout.  

Quarantine survival kits

How about baskets you drop off at doorsteps filled with all kinds of isolation goodies? We’re thinking a fabric mask, hand sanitizer (if you can get it), snacks, and drinks. Add an inspirational book, adult coloring book and markers, or a puzzle. You could even throw a roll of TP in there for a laugh!

Personalized items

If you’re looking for a more traditional with a little creativity, you can still make those hard-working teachers feel special, try personalized notepads like this one from Shutterly. You can include a handwritten thank-you note on the first page. We also like the idea of custom t-shirts and cloth screen cleaners. Consider setting up an online “store” and letting teachers choose their gifts.

Drive-thru or delivery meal

Many schools have set up drive-thrus to keep kids fed during school closures. A similar set-up would work to distribute a meal (or even just warm cookies!) for your teachers. Or you could deliver right to their doors. Either way, consider using a local establishment to cater your event and show teacher appreciation.

Virtual raffle

Looking to go big? If you want to go in for some bigger prizes (think: a $100 grocery store gift card or a personal laminator), you can use an app like Random Picker to draw your winners. Then do the announcement over a video-conferencing app like Zoom.

Teacher’s lounge makeover

If it’s in the budget (or you want to pool what you would have spent on teachers individually), you can plan something really great for when teachers return to school: an upgraded teacher’s lounge. You might consider new furniture or decor, invest in an espresso machine, or stock the pantry and shelves with snacks and personal items.

Involve students and parents

Heartfelt messages are probably the most important part of teacher appreciation. Google Docs and Padlet are nice ways to work collaboratively on a project with kids and parents, or just solicit ideas that you can then turn into your own presentation. 

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Michigan PIP Reform Explained – Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Michigan PIP Reform Explained

What is it? What should you expect?

Michigan’s Auto Insurance Reform, it’s finally coming around the corner on July 2, 2020. As many of you know, Michigan passed a bill that will hopefully save many drivers money each year on their auto insurance. This is partially due to the PIP Reform coverage on your auto insurance policies.  There are other parts to this, but this blog focuses on just the PIP portion of it.


Personal Injury Protection


PIP is the coverage on your auto insurance policy that pays for the medical costs for auto-related injuries. This will cover not only the medical bills but for any long-term care, wage loss, and replacement services.


PIP will cover the named insured of the policy, also known as the policyholder and their resident relatives. Being a listed driver on the auto policy is NOT the same as being a named insured or a resident relative.


The definition of a resident relative can be difficult to define as not everyone’s family and living situations are the same. The generalized response would be anyone who is legally a relative of the named insured that permanently resides in the same home as the named insured. This would include the named insured’s children and spouse. Please have a conversation with your insurance agent if your family/living situation does not fall into the “traditional” circumstances.


Drivers will now have different options to choose from other than the unlimited PIP coverage. Currently, anyone with an auto policy in Michigan has an unlimited amount of PIP so there is no cap on how much an insurance company will pay out on a PIP claim. As of July 2, there will be options available, but it is important to know that not all options are available for everyone.

The options are:

  • Unlimited
  • $500,000
  • $250,000
  • $250,000 (with opt-out options for those listed on the policy with Qualified Health Coverage)
  • $50,000 (only for named insureds enrolled in medicaid AND any spouse and all resident relatives have either Qualified Health Coverage, medicaid enrolled or covered under another auto policy with PIP coverage)
  • $0 – Opt Out (only allowed if named insured has Medicare A and B AND if everyone else in the household has Qualified Health Coverage.)

The first 3 options have no stipulations so anyone could choose them. The last three options have certain requirements. It is important to discuss your health insurance circumstances with both your health insurance carrier and your auto insurance agent to know which options are available for you. Such as, does your health insurance fall under the “Qualified Health Coverage” under this new law?


As defined under the new law, Qualified Health Coverage is: health and accident coverage that does NOT exclude or limit coverage for injuries related to auto accidents/injuries and has an annual individual deductible of $6,000 or less per person. Medicare recipients with BOTH parts A & B would also qualify.

Medicaid and health care sharing ministries are examples of coverages that are NOT considered Qualified Health Coverage.


Call your health insurance company using the number on the back of your ID card. If your current health insurance is through your employer, you may be able to also contact your HR department. You may have to provide proof to your auto insurance company that you have the right kind of health insurance.


Call your auto insurance agent to discuss what options are available for you.


The beginning of June will be an ideal time to reach out to both your health insurance company to verify your coverage and your auto insurance agent. By this time, all auto insurance companies will have the rates available for the different PIP options. It is ideal to contact your health insurance carrier and get that answer, and then your auto insurance agent.


Two options that most auto insurance companies are offering if you wish to change your PIP coverage to anything other than unlimited are: 1)You will be able to just make an endorsement (change) to your policy the same as if you were to swap a vehicle on your policy. 2) Some companies are requiring that your policy be rewritten so you would have a new policy vs just making the changes on the current one.


Shield has a plan in place starting in May to try and make this change go as smoothly as possible. We will be emailing all our clients we have email addresses for a quick 2 question survey for how they would like to address their auto policy regarding the new law. There are options to select if you already know your decision or you can select to have someone call or email you to discuss. For those who do not have an email address on file or who don’t respond to the emailed survey, we will be reaching out to you by phone prior to July 2.

To learn more, please feel free to email us at or call or text us at 616-896-4600.

You can also visit for more information.

Submitted by Agent Melissa Hunt

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