Shield Insurance Gives Away Lowes Gift Card

Shield Insurance Gift Card Winners!

Every week, Shield Insurance Agency draws a winner from its clients and social media followers. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook Page to get yourself entered to win and see who the winners are!

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Community Minded Referral Program

Shield Referral Program Introduces Roslyn

Shield Referral Program

“The highest compliment we can receive is the referral of your friends, family & business associates. Thank you for your trust!”

Your referral can make a difference for Roslyn. Shield Insurance is helping Roslyn by donating $25 for each non-client who gets a quote from us! No purchase necessary! CLICK HERE to get a quote and we’ll donate $25 to her! (Be sure to mention Roslyn in the comment section!) You can also call or text the office and one of our agents will take a few minutes of your time to offer up a quote. Don’t forget to mention Ros!

Meet Roslyn
Roslyn and Shield Insurance Agency Referral Program

More great stories featuring Roslyn…

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shield insurance agency educational video cover

Insurance Terms

Shield Insurance Agency & Foremost Insurance Company present Insurance Terms

Every industry has its own unique language – and insurance is no exception. Here are some key insurance definitions and terms you might come across as you consider insuring yourself or your stuff.

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Electric Space Heater Safety | Shield Insurance Blog

Are Electric Space Heaters Safe?

Are electric space heaters safe?

Electric space heaters can be used safely, but they are not the safest option for staying warm when the temperature drops.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), space heaters account for 43% of home heating fires and 85% of home heating deaths.

They can also be a hazard in the workplace. While there are no federal safety rules prohibiting space heaters at a worksite, you should follow local rules and regulations. OSHA also requires businesses to follow all manufacturer specifications on the unit’s label and in the user manual when using electrical equipment.

So, if you’ve tried other ways to warm the area, like adjusting your HVAC system or adding weather stripping, and it’s just not working, an electric space heater might be the next best option. And it can be used safely at home or in the workplace when you take the right precautions.

Here are steps you can take to increase space heater safety for your home or business.

Use your indoor electric space heater safely

Here’s how to increase safety while enjoying the warm comfort of your electric space heater indoors:

  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines.
  • Before you use it, do an inspection of the space heater to check for damage on its parts, knobs, coils, and legs. If any damage is detected, take the space heater out of service immediately and have it repaired by a professional.
  • Place the space heater at least six feet away from combustible materials and never place anything on top of or touching it.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near each space heater.
  • Put your space heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. Avoid furniture, countertops, rugs, or carpets. Keep it out of high-traffic areas, such as doorways.
  • Make sure your space heater is plugged into properly grounded outlets. Do not use extension cords or power strips.
  • Turn off the space heater when no one is occupying that area or when it is out of sight.
  • Do not use space heaters if small children are in the area.
  • Unplug space heaters at the end of each day and make sure the unit has cooled before exiting the room or job site.
  • Only use a space heater as a temporary (not permanent) heat source.
  • Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition.
  • For business use, require employees to request permission from a supervisor or facility manager.

When you use your electric space heater the right way, you are reducing the likelihood of property damage and injuries — keeping you and the important things around you safe and sound.

Safely use space heaters outdoors

Many restaurants, schools, offices, and other businesses use outdoor spaces during the cooler months of the year and rely on outdoor heaters to keep businesses running and people warm. Check out these safety tips for heating and storing propane cylinders and other outdoor space heaters

  • Use propane heaters in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Set up heaters in open, ventilated areas. Propane cylinders cannot be used in enclosed spaces.
  • Use the shortest possible hose to operate the propane cylinder.
  • Follow restrictions based on occupancy. For example, restaurants with 50 or more occupants cannot have propane cylinders within five feet of exits.
  • Store propane cylinders inside and in an area with minimal potential exposure to temperature increases, physical damage, etc.

There are also electric patio heater options for heating the outdoors.

NFPA recommends following these safety guidelines for electric patio heaters:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe use and storage.
  • Complete proper inspection, cleaning and maintenance procedures for each use.
  • Be mindful of necessary clearances from the heating element as well as installation and wiring requirements.
  • Pay attention to the power requirements and whether an electric patio heater can be plugged into an outdoor extension cord and receptacle, power tap or multiplug adapter safely.
  • Ensure any extension cords used are in good condition and free from splices or deterioration.

It’s possible to accomplish the safe use of space heaters by following the right precautions during setup, use, and storage.

Keep this article handy as a quick reference for basic space heater safety indoors and outdoors.

Things to consider before you buy or replace an electric space heater

In addition to using your space heater safely, here are other safety tips to consider for buying, maintaining, or replacing an electric space heater

  • Understand which type of space heater you have. There are convection and radiant heaters. Convection space heaters circulate air in the room. Radiant space heaters emit infrared radiation that directly heats the objects and people in line with the space heater.
  • Invest in an electric space heater with added safety features. An automatic shut-off feature if the heater falls over or heating element guards are good features to look for.
  • Consider the hours you have used your space heater as an indication for when it is time to replace it. For example, a space heater you have used daily for two years might need to be replaced due to the long hours of use. Replace your heater with a newer, safer model when possible.

Electric space heater safety is essential for you and the people around you. Practice safe use of space heaters on a regular basis to reduce the risk of fire in your home or business.

This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. Talk to your Shield Insurance Agent to learn more about Homeowners and Business insurance coverage options

– National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
– National Safety Council
– American Red Cross
– Business and Legal Resources
– Safety+Health Magazine

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6 Home Renovations that Can Affect Your Insurance

If you’re planning a home renovation, you may want to call your insurance agent first because this decision can impact your homeowners insurance. Some home renovations will change the amount of coverage you need, while others could even help you qualify for a discount. We cover six common scenarios that could affect your insurance, so you can plan ahead.

1. Building a New Addition

When you expand and improve your home with a home renovation, you could likely increase its replacement value. This is the cost to repair or rebuild your home. Some additions that could increase your replacement value include: adding a second-story bedroom, expanding the living room or building a new garage.

After building a new addition, or making updates or other improvements, you may need to increase your coverage because the value of your home, and the cost to rebuild it will likely have increased. Most insurance companies require your Coverage A or dwelling coverage limit be at least 80 percent of the replacement value of your home.

Your insurance agent can recalculate your home value to determine whether you’ll need more coverage because of the addition or improvement.

2. Building a Pool

If you’re looking to add a pool, you will want to contact your insurance agent to review coverage for changes to your property’s value, as well as any increase in risk. When people are swimming and running around the pool, there’s the chance for an accident. If someone gets hurt, they could try to hold you responsible for damages. This can apply even if the accident isn’t your fault.

Check with your agent to see whether your existing policy covers a pool and if you need to increase your liability coverage. This coverage can help pay damages to injured persons and provide for a defense if you are sued as a result of their injuries.

You should also ask your agent what steps you can take to keep your pool safe so you can avoid accidents. Adding a fence with a lock is a smart move. You could also add lights with motion sensors or a pool alarm to discourage trespassers. Consider skipping the diving board, because this increases the chance of an accident and your insurance cost.

3. Adding a Deck

A new deck is another improvement that can add value but also risk, especially if the deck is attached to a second story or higher. You should let your agent know that you’ve added a deck, so he or she can adjust your policy as necessary.

4. Renovating the Kitchen

Upgrading the kitchen can significantly increase the value of your home, especially if you switch to higher-quality counter tops, appliances and new flooring. You should contact your agent to see if you need to increase your insurance coverage.

If your contractor upgrades the plumbing or electrical wiring as part of the renovation, ask your homeowners insurance agent if you qualify for a discount or if your coverage needs to be adjusted. These upgrades can reduce the chance of flooding water damage and fire, so check if your insurance company has discounts that can help to reduce your premium.

5. Finishing the Basement

Finishing your basement can also increase the value of your home. That means, yet again, you may need more homeowners coverage. Flooding can be a concern, especially for the lowest floor in your house. It is important to note that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by floods. Ask your agent to review your coverage and look to see if there are steps you can take to help prevent future damage, like installing a sump pump.

6. Redoing the Roof

Before you redo your roof, ask your insurance agent whether this could qualify for a discount. Some companies offer a discount when you reinforce the roof or use stronger roofing materials that are wind, hail and leak-resistant. Your agent can explain how to qualify. At the same time, redoing the roof could increase your property value, which means you might need more coverage.

Home Renovations

It is a good idea to contact your agent when you’re considering making home renovations. Their knowledge and expertise can help you get the most out of your discounts while making sure your home is adequately insured.

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Home Improvement | Shield Insurance Blog

5 Home Improvement Projects for the best ROI

5 Home Improvement Projects That May Have the Biggest Return on Investment

Conventional wisdom has long held that kitchens and baths sell homes. Those are also two of the more expensive areas to tackle for home improvement, but if you make sound design decisions and choose the right materials, you could end up making your home more appealing to potential buyers – and a more enjoyable place for you to live. And, if you’re handy, some of these ideas may even be great DIY (do-it-yourself) home projects.

A study from the National Association of Realtors confirms that kitchens and baths still top the list of interior home improvement projects that appeal most to potential buyers. The survey ranked the projects by the percentage of the remodel cost that would likely be recovered based on the home’s resale value after the remodel. These five home improvements can potentially provide the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to ROI.

1. Complete Kitchen Renovation

  • National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s (NARI®) cost estimate for the project: $68,000
  • REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $40,000
  • Percent of value recovered from the project: 59%

The look and feel of a kitchen can serve as shorthand for how up to date the owners have kept a house. Potential buyers have been known to rule out homes based on kitchens alone. Stainless steel appliances and granite countertops continue to be on many buyers’ checklists, especially those who want to move right in and start entertaining.

The top reason for renovating a kitchen, cited by 24% of homeowners, was to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes and materials. According to the Remodeling Impact Report, 10% of realtors said a completely renovated kitchen most recently helped them clinch a deal, resulting in a closed sale.

2. Kitchen Upgrade

  • NARI’s cost estimate for the project: $38,300
  • REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $20,000
  • Percent of value recovered from the project: 52%

A less expensive alternative to completely gutting a kitchen is an upgrade to the current design. Replacing dated appliances, refinishing cabinets and changing out tile backsplashes are some cost-effective updates that can still modernize a kitchen and make it more appealing to buyers.

While 12% of realtors suggest that sellers completely remodel their kitchens, 57% have suggested a kitchen upgrade. Twenty percent of realtors have said a kitchen upgrade most recently helped complete a deal. In addition to the resale value, kitchen improvements can also help you enjoy your time in your home, with better functionality and livability cited by 29% of respondents as the most important result of their remodel.

Travelers wants to help you protect the things that matter to you. We offer a wide breadth of products so you can be covered at home and on the road.

3. Bathroom Renovation

  • NARI’s cost estimate for the project: $35,000
  • REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $20,000
  • Percent of value recovered from the project: 57%

Bathrooms are another place where a home can show its age, and potential buyers may hesitate at the cost and work involved in remodeling an outdated bathroom after buying a home. Still, while 33% of realtors have suggested sellers complete a bathroom renovation before completing a sale, only 4% said the project most recently helped them complete a deal.

4. New Bathroom

  • NARI’s cost estimate for the project: $60,000
  • REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $30,000
  • Percent of value recovered from the project: 50%

A remodeling decision often driven by function rather than a desire to modernize, adding a new bathroom is nearly as expensive as completely remodeling a kitchen, but with less of a “wow factor” for potential buyers. With only 5% of realtors suggesting that sellers add a bathroom and only 1% saying the project most recently helped clinch a deal for them, this may be one project that makes more sense for homeowners planning to be in their homes for several years.

5. New Master Suite/Owners’ Suite

  • NARI’s cost estimate for the project: $150,000
  • REALTORS® estimated cost recovered: $75,000
  • Percent of value recovered from the project: 50%

The costliest project on the list, a new master suite or owner’s suite, is another project that may have greater value to you while living in the home rather than in making it attractive to future buyers. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they have a greater desire to be home since completing the project. Only 3% of realtors have suggested that sellers complete an owner’s suite before attempting to sell, and less than 1% said the project most recently helped clinch a deal for them.

Still deciding where to focus your budget for home improvement? Make a list of the reasons you’re considering each project, and be sure to consider the impact on your home insurance, too. Want to attract future buyers and increase the value of your home? Kitchens and bathrooms remain a good place to start. If you plan to remain in your home for a number of years, you may want to update a bedroom, add a bathroom, convert a basement to a living area or tackle any other project that will add to your own appreciation of where you live.

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FORTIFIED Standards: Renovating Your Home

Renovating Your Home to FORTIFIED Standards

If you’re working on your home or putting on a new roof, consider renovating to FORTIFIED standards. Developed by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), FORTIFIED Home™ construction practices are designed to help homeowners and communities better weather future storms, including hurricanes, high winds, hail, and severe thunderstorms.  Building codes set a minimum standard for construction techniques and materials. Building FORTIFIED means exceeding those requirements.

The goal of building FORTIFIED is to take action today to make homes and communities more resilient to natural disasters tomorrow. Using data from more than 20 years of storm damage, IBHS created a set of standards for new and existing construction that can be affordable and can be incorporated into your home’s building design.

FORTIFIED Standards: Renovating Your Home

If you’re working on your home or putting on a new roof, consider renovating to FORTIFIED standards. Developed by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), FORTIFIED Home™ construction practices are designed to help homeowners and communities better weather future storms, including hurricanes, high winds, hail, and severe thunderstorms.  Building codes set a minimum standard for construction techniques and materials. Building FORTIFIED means exceeding those requirements.

The goal of building FORTIFIED is to take action today to make homes and communities more resilient to natural disasters tomorrow. Using data from more than 20 years of storm damage, IBHS created a set of standards for new and existing construction that can be affordable and can be incorporated into your home’s building design.

Three Levels of FORTIFIED Home Designations

  1. Bronze: As part of the bronze level, a wind-driven rain management system in the roof protects against water damage. It features ring shank nails to protect against wind uplift resistance, which provides double the strength of nails used on traditional homes. Another important technique is sealing the seams of your roof deck to prevent water intrusion from wind-driven rain.
  2. Silver: The silver designation adds features such as impact-resistant windows and pressure-rated doors to protect the home from flying debris in strong winds. 
  3. Gold: The gold designation focuses on creating a continuous load path by tying the roof to the walls, the walls to the floors, and the floors to the foundation to help make the home able to withstand hurricane-force winds.

Adding Value and Safety

After a certified, third-party evaluator verifies that the home meets FORTIFIED standards, you receive a certificate and a unique ID number valid for five years. The FORTIFIED designation helps show you have made consistent and defined structural updates to your home. 
To learn more, visit the IBHS website.

Learn more about homeowners insurance, or if you’re ready to take the next step, give us a Call or Text: 616-896-4600, and we will get you started!

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Independent Agents

Independent Agents vs. Captive Agents

When you’re in the market for insurance, whether it’s home, auto or commercial insurance, you typically work with an agent who can help you find a policy that meets your needs. But most people don’t know that there are two different kinds of insurance agents—captive and independent agents.

So what is an independent insurance agent vs. a captive insurance agent? In short, captive insurance agents are contracted to work for one insurance company and can only sell that company’s policies. On the other hand, independent agents are contracted to work with a variety of insurance companies and can sell policies from multiple providers.

As a consumer, it’s important to understand the distinctions between captive and independent agents. Although they sound the same, some people may benefit from working with a captive agent and others with an independent agent. In this article, we’ll explain the key differences and help you decide which agent is best for you.

Captive agents

Most of the major insurance companies, like State Farm, Allstate and Farmers, use captive agents to sell their insurance products. Their agents are only selling policies from that one insurer, so the agents are experts at knowing the different policies available, discounts and coverage add-ons for their one carrier.

Because of that, they can be helpful for people who are buying insurance for the first time or for people who aren’t sure how much coverage to purchase.

Client satisfaction is crucial for captive agents because they get a commission for every earned sale. However, their commission rate tends to be lower than for independent agents because they are also paid a salary from the insurance company and get financial assistance with costs like advertising and hiring.

Independent agents

Independent agents partner with several insurance companies of their choosing to sell certain policies from each provider. For example, an independent agent might contract with Pioneer Insurance, Frankenmuth Insurance,and Citizens Insurance and sell any of their auto and home insurance policies.

Many consumers like working an independent insurance agent because an independent agent gives the customer more options. They aren’t locked into purchasing from a small number of plans that might be too expensive or not a great fit for their coverage needs. Those options help people shop around for plans before settling on one.

Which is better?

Generally speaking, there isn’t one better type of insurance agent. Whether you choose to work with a captive agent or an independent agent depends on you.

The main benefit of working with a captive agent is that they have extensive knowledge of their insurers products and policies, because they have one carrier. However, working with a captive agent tends to be more expensive, due to extra fees that the insurance company charges.

If you work with an independent agent, you’ll get more options, which also means a wider price range. But independent agents have in-depth knowledge about numerous carriers, where captives only need to learn one. Also, independent agents usually charge less because there isn’t one parent company to support.

If you’re concerned with keeping costs low, working with an independent agent will save you money. Keep in mind that you should already have a general idea of what you’re looking for before meeting with an agent.

Frequently asked questions

What type of insurance do independent and captive agents sell?

Both independent and captive agents can sell any kind of insurance they want. Some choose to sell every product that an insurer offers, while others specialize in a few areas, like home and life insurance.

Should I choose an independent or a captive agent?

There are a few main reasons why you would choose an independent vs. a captive agent. The first is cost—working with an independent agent will be cheaper than working with a captive agent. Secondly, independent agents can offer a wider variety of plans, so you have more choices and a wider price range to work from.
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