Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

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Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

With a lot of communities eliminating trick-or-treating & harvest events due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time to look at doing crafts and such at home to still celebrate the holiday & have fun!

This article from WhatMomsLove.com showcases 70 different ways to decorate a pumpkin without carving. It’s safe for little ones (depending on the decoration method), creative, and down-right fun!

  • Nail Art Pumpkins. All you need are nails/brads (depending on the size of the pumpkin) and some colored embroidery floss. Push the nails/brads in randomly into your pumpkin, leaving a bit of the nail exposed. Tie one end of the floss to a nail and go to town winding it around the various nails into a pattern. Painting or purchasing white pumpkins make the designs pop!
  • Melted Crayon Pumpkins. This one requires using the stove and hot wax, so be careful. Purchase a bunch of dollar store crayons, unwrap them, melt on the stove in a pot you won’t be cooking in anymore, and pour the melted crayons over a small pumpkin. Makes for a drippy tie-dye look!
  • Glitter Pumpkins. Using a foam brush & some non-toxic glue, paint a design or the entire pumpkin and sprinkle colored glitter onto the tacky surface. Spray with hairspray to keep the glitter on!
  • Tissue Paper Pumpkins. Using a foam brush, some Mod Podge, and colored tissue paper, cut the paper into shapes or crumple & tear. Paint the Mod Podge onto the pumkin and layer the tissue paper adding a coat of Mod Podge after each layer!
  • Candy Pumpkins. Using glue (either craft glue or hot glue), use candy from the dollar store to create scenes or funny faces. Don’t let the kids eat the candy after it has been attached to the pumpkin, however.

Lots more ideas for no-carve pumpkin decorating can be found at WhatMomsLove.com

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Condo Building Items

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Condo Building Items

More and more cities are finding revitalization from developers purchasing dilapidated buildings and refurbishing them into condos and apartments. Young and old alike are finding condo living to fit in with their lifestyle, the young like being in the city and able to enjoy the vibrant local shops/restaurants while older folks enjoy not having to maintain a yard & home.

In most cases, a condominium association’s “master policy” handles the insurance for the condominium structures and any common elements used or provided for use to unit owners. The unit owners may be required to cover certain aspects of their unit depending on the “master policy” and by-laws for the condominium association.

Most “master policies” offer requirements for insurance by their unit owners. There are four typical insurance requirements that most “master policies” have:

Personal Property/Liability/Loss Assessment – the unit owner is only required to cover their personal belongings, personal liability, & loss assessment. The “master policy” covers the cost to repair/replace the condominium unit.

Upgrades or Additions/Personal Property/Liability/Loss Assessment – the unit owner is responsible for insuring the additional cost of upgrades or additions to the condominium unit. The “master policy” will cover the cost to repair/replace a basic unit. So if there was an upgrade to the countertops to granite or quartz, an added sunroom, upgraded tile, etc. then that is what the unit owner would insure on top of their personal property/liability/loss assessment.

“Paint In”/Personal Property/Liability/Loss Assessment – the unit owner is responsible for insuring all items within a condominium unit less the drywall & subfloor. The unit owner would be responsible for light fixtures/appliances/wall coverings/draperies/shades/floor coverings/etc. on top of their personal property/liability/loss assessment.

“Walls In”/Personal Property/Liability/Loss Assessment – the unit owner is responsible for insuring all items within a condominium unit including the drywall & subfloor. The unit owner would be responsible for every interior building item from the wall studs & floor joists in on top of their personal property/liability/loss assessment.

Condominiums are unique in that you can choose an arbitrary figure for insuring building items and personal property. A standard homeowners policy insures the home for replacement cost (square footage + type of construction + features/additions = replacement cost of home), which derives the needed coverage amount. Personal property is calculated as a percentage of that amount (usually 50%-75% of the dwelling amount).

When it comes to insuring your condo, you need to first look at the by-laws to see what you are responsible for insuring. Once you know that, talk to the realtor, the condo developer, or a fellow unit owner to get advice on how much coverage you should have for building items. Guesstimating the cost of replacing your personal belongings today will give you a roundabout figure of how much to insure your “stuff”. Take into account replacing the items with new, doesn’t matter if you got it on sale or at Goodwill. If you replace it today, what will it cost?

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage

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Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Here the the state of Michigan the auto insurance requirements have changed in order to lower the overall cost of auto insurance for consumers. We have some of the highest rates for auto insurance in the country, mostly due to offering Unlimited Medical coverage (payment for injuries relating to auto insurance for as long as you live). In amongst the changes is the ability to change your medical coverage from the Unlimited Medical to a dollar limit or if you have qualifying health insurance or Medicare, you can opt-out of medical coverage on your auto policy.

Another item that changed is the minimum Bodily Injury coverage the state requires. For current auto insurance policies, the state requires $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. You can purchase less coverage but will face penalties and other issues in case of an auto accident.We have speculated before (and lawyers tend to agree) the reason for the new state minimum for Bodily Injury is the result of people having a choice of medical coverage on their auto policies. They may choose to opt-out of medical coverage and later realize after an accident that they have annual deductibles/office & drug co-pays/limitations/exclusions/etc. With mounting medical bills, they will try to sue the at-fault party to help pay for them.

But what if the at-fault party has no auto insurance (about 20% of Michigan residents don’t carry auto insurance) or carry limits lower than the state requires? What if you opted-out of medical coverage or decided to choose a dollar limit and have become a paraplegic or worse because of the accident? Is there recourse?

Yes. You can purchase Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage on your auto policy. These are optional coverages in the state of Michigan, meaning they are not required by the state.

Uninsured Motorist coverage provides excess No-Fault Personal Injury Protection and other economic losses (including pain & suffering) in an automobile accident caused by a driver who is uninsured (someone who does not carry auto insurance coverage as required by Michigan law). This is an “excess” coverage, meaning that all other avenues for coverage will need to be exhausted first. If you have health insurance and your injuries exceed or are not covered, you can pursue a UM claim.

Underinsured Motorist coverage provides the same excess No-Fault Personal Injury Protection and other economic losses (including pain & suffering) in an automobile accident by a driver who is UNDER-insured according to the state of Michigan. This means drivers who carry less than Bodily Injury limits of $250,000/$500,000 or $500,000 CSL.

We recommend that you match your UM/UIM limits to match your Bodily Injury limits, the cost is minimal in relation to the coverage provided.

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Additional Living Expenses

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Additional Living Expenses

With the wildfires raging in the West, hurricanes & tornadoes in the Midwest & South, one coverage that will certainly be used is Additional Living Expenses. Your homeowners policy includes several coverages as a part of the basic policy:

Dwelling Coverage A – this amount will be used to repair your home or in case of a total loss to haul away old debris and rebuild the home using the Replacement Cost Estimate on file.

Other Structures Coverage B – this amount will be used to repair an outbuilding/fence/gazebo/standalone deck/etc. or to haul away debris & rebuild it. If you do not have any other structures on your property, you can use this amount towards your dwelling.

Personal Property Coverage C – this amount in conjunction with the Replacement Cost endorsement will replace all of your damaged belongings due to a covered loss. Antiques, obsolete items, & other types of personal property would be excluded from coverage BUT depending on the item you could schedule it on your policy.

Loss of Use/Additional Living Expenses Coverage D – this coverage will help pay for a temporary residence & other bills relating to being displaced from your residence due to a covered loss. Again these expenses are “reasonable” to maintain your lifestyle prior to the loss.

Personal Liability Coverage E – this coverage helps to take care of a claim at your residence where you are deemed liable. This is a “third party” coverage meaning that it does not cover the Named Insured/Spouse/Resident Relatives, only visitors to your property.

Medical Payments Coverage F – this coverage is known as a “goodwill” coverage meaning to cover minor medical incidents that occur at your residence involving a visitor or other “third party”.

The Loss of Use/Additional Living Expenses coverage is available for covered losses only. If you are remodeling your home for example and need a temporary place to stay while the remodel is being completed – you are on your own.

The coverage will take care of renting a home/condo/hotel room, laundry services (if unavailable at temporary residence), meals (only if cooking facilities are unavailable at temporary residence), pet boarding (only if you are unable to keep pet at temporary residence), and other bills associated with being displaced from your home due to a covered loss.

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Closing Your Pool

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Closing Your Pool

Labor Day has come & gone, kids are going back to school, the nights are getting cooler, & the leaves are starting to change. After a season of having fun splashing in the pool, it’s time to put it to bed for the winter. Thanks to this article from Leslie Pools, here are some tips to help you to close your pool for the season:

Start a Week Before. Before closing your pool for the season, wait until the nighttime temperatures consistently drop below 65 degrees to prevent algae growth. Once that occurs, add phosphate remover to help keep the algae out prior to closing.

Brush & Vacuum. Thoroughly brush and vacuum all surfaces of the pool to get all the algae & debris off the liner. This will make it easier to open in the springtime. Be sure to empty the skimmer & pump baskets when you are done.

Change the Water Level. For areas of the country that freeze, you should drain the water level down 4-6 inches below the skimmer whether an above-ground or in-ground pool. For areas of the country that do not freeze, you should fill the pool to almost overflowing.

Shock & Chlorinate. You should shock & chlorinate your pool a few days before closing, at the very least the night before. This will kill any bacteria that may want to stick around during the winter.

Backwash Your Filter. Run a full backwash of your filter and clean it (if you are able to).

Be sure to check out the full article from Leslie Pools for more tips on closing your pool for the season!

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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COVID-19 Back to School Tips

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COVID-19 Back to School Tips

School is going to look a lot different for students this year due to the current COVID-19 pandemic around the world. Some school systems are relying on virtual or remote learning while others are testing the waters with in-person learning. We’ve found 2 articles that tackle both side of the education coin whether virtual or in-person.

This article from WRAL Channel 5 shares some virtual learning tips for those who have opted it for their children:

Start Communicating – reach out to teachers/administrators/counselors as often as needed. Make use of all resources provided, whether necessary or not. Schooling from home should be as close to in-person learning as possible. Engage in the classes and ask questions if your student is struggling.

Get on a Schedule – even though your child may not being going to in-person classes, they still should be on a regular school schedule. Going to bed on time and waking up on time are important for keeping up a school routine. Start a few days before classes are to start in order to help your child get used to the new schedule.

Limit Distractions – your child should have an area set up in an area of your home to help become conducive to learning. It should be able to limit noise or distractions that may take away from your child’s ability to pay attention and do their schoolwork.

Be sure to read the full article for more tips on virtual or remote learning

 

If your child is able to go to school for in-person learning, MSN has these tips to help you:

Get Supplies – on top of the normal items like pencils and notebooks, your child will also need a sturdy backpack (since most schools are not allowing the use of lockers) to keep their school books and others items in. Portable hand sanitizer is also a must as well as a spare face mask or two.

Good Hygiene – get your children into the routine of using hand sanitizer after touching books/surfaces, wash their hands for at least 20 seconds after using the restroom, & remember social distancing.

Have a Conversation – talk with your children about going back to school and what it will look like. Reassure them and get them to ask questions in order to allay any fears they may harbor about going back to class.

Be sure to read the full article for some additional tips for going back to school for in-person learning.

 

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Pet Travel Tips

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Pet Travel Tips

The current virus pandemic has dried up many vacation plans via airline & cruise ships. Many people are opting to camp or drive somewhere for vacations. The Huffington Post has some tips for traveling with your pets whether by car or airline.

Take Short Trips – Taking short trips will help your pet acclimate to riding in a vehicle and helps you to gauge how they will do. Does your pet get agitated or carsick? Finding this out beforehand is better than having to clean up barf off the floorboards or a damaged interior from an anxious pet that wants out of the vehicle.

Buckle That Pet – Unrestrained pets cause more than 30,000 accidents each year. Keep them in the backseat and either contained in a pet carrier/pet carseat/pet barrier.

Don’t Leave Them – Car temps can exceed 100 degrees in a matter of minutes exposed to the sun. If you are going to a destination that is not pet-friendly, it’s better to leave them at a kennel or at home rather than stuck in a car (even with the windows open).

Check the Airline – There are regulations and additional fees involved with pets traveling by air which can include specific pet carriers/vaccinations/pet health standards.
Be sure to read the full article from the Huffington Post for more tips on traveling with your pet!

 

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Beach Safety Tips

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Beach Safety Tips

More and more people are staying local for vacations due to the virus pandemic which means visiting local lakes/beaches. This article from WebMD shares tips on how to stay safe while enjoying the beach:

Watch the Rip Current – If at all possible, visit a beach with a lifeguard on duty. Drowning chances are cut down to 1 in 18 million where lifeguards are present. If you are caught in a rip current, swim to one side or the other until you can break free from the current. DO NOT attempt to fight the current because the current is faster than even an Olympic swimmer can swim.

Floating & Swimming – Use floats only in areas where you are able to swim. Use a tether or leash so you don’t lose the float/board.

Stop Sunburn – Choose the right sunscreen, don’t rely on just the SPF. Use sunscreens that have either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as they block both UVA & UVB rays. Reapply every 2 hours or so, sooner if you go into the water or are sweating.
Be sure to read the entire article from WebMDfor more tips on being safe at the beach!

 

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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Firepit Safety Tips

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Fire Pit Safety Tips

 

Many people are opting for “staycations” this year because of the current pandemic gripping the world. Enjoying local lakes & ponds, local trails & scenic spots, even camping in their own backyard.

Of course you can’t camp in the great outdoors without a fire pit! Roasting weenies, making s’mores, watching the embers glow. Danger does lurk when working with a fire pit, we found this article from Beaumont Parenting with tips on keeping yourself, your loved ones, & your property safe when starting up your fire pit.

1) Check Local Ordinances. Some areas of the country are prohibiting “open fires” or burn barrels and may require a burn permit if they do allow them.

2) Watch the Weather. Windy nights are not a good time for campfires as they can blow sparks & embers into surrounding trees & buildings.

3) Don’t Get Sloshed. Alcohol & campfires go together like peanut butter & chocolate. Don’t overdo it and become impaired, you may put yourself and others at risk for injury.

4) Burn Properly. Use wood/paper/other combustibles used in conjunction with the fire pit. Don’t use it as an incinerator for trash. Certainly don’t put things like batteries or aerosol cans into the fire.

5) Fire Extinguisher is a Must. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, a rake/shovel, or a large container of water handy to put out fires that begin to get out of control.

Be sure to read the full article at Beaumont Parenting for more tips on keeping you and yours safe while enjoying a fire pit.

 

 

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RV Buying Tips

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RV Buying Tips

More and more people are purchasing recreational vehicles rather than spending money on air travel & hotel accommodations due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Hitting the open road and camping in nature is a good way to social distance while enjoying a relaxing time with family.

This article from Business Insider offers tips to those who want to enjoy the great outdoors in comfort…

Decide the Type of RV – from pop-up camper trailers to full-size Class A motor homes, figure out what you want out of your recreational vehicle experience. From there you can decide how big you want and what features will enhance your experience.

Know the Value – Do research before you commit to find out what the average retail price of the RV you are looking for. The article has a quote from the author of Camper Report stating that you should never buy an RV brand new.

Check the Tires – Whether buying brand new or used, always check the tires and replace them at least every 5 years. Even if the tread is still good, blowouts can occur.

Research the History – As with purchasing a new or used car, check the VIN for the RV you are looking at for its history. Check to see if it was in any accidents/rebuilt/stolen and if there are any recalls.

Beware of Scams – Never deal with an owner that requires a wire transfer or payment via check.
Of course we want you to check out the full article from Business Insider with even more tips on purchasing a Recreational Vehicle.

 

Contact Us!

At M. Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 616-396-1497 or send us a note at mvpinsagency@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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