Ice Dam Tips 2022

(Photo Courtesy StockVault.net)

Ice Dam Tips 2022

Here in the Midwest ice dams are common and often cause a lot of damage to the interior of homes. Although in most cases damage caused by ice dams are covered by homeowners’ insurance, prevention is a lot better & less costly than a claim. We found this article from Family Handyman with tips on how to prevent these winter issues from occurring:

  • Close Up Attic. According to the article, 1/3 of heat loss in homes is from heat entering attics with most coming from air leaks or gaps. They recommend plugging any gaps in walls/light fixtures, pipes/chimneys/etc. with caulk or expanding foam.
  • Check Your Insulation. Depending on where you live, building codes require between 12in and 14in of insulation. They recommend getting an R value of at least R-40 and using blown-in insulation rather than batting insulation as it can fit more tightly into crevices & around joists/rafters.
  • Increase Ventilation. Having adequate ventilation in the attic to allow warm air to flow out and cold air to flow in will help premature thawing of snow on your roof allowing it to collect into an ice dam. It’s best to have a contractor come out and determine if you have enough ventilation (roughly 1sqft to every 300sqft of roof space). a combination of soffit vents and ridge vents can help with continuous air flow.
  • Clear Your Roof. Using a roof rake when possible to remove excess snow from the roof can help in preventing or at least mitigating ice formation at the edges of your roof. Always use a roof rake from the ground floor and not from a ladder. When raking be careful to not damage roofing shingles as they become brittle in the cold weather.

Be sure to check out the full article over at Family Handyman for more tips on preventing/mitigating ice dams on your roof!

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Winter Driving Tips 2022

(Photo courtesy StockVault.net)

Winter Driving Tips 2022

We have just received the largest dump of snow so far this season. We celebrated a mild winter and a green Christmas, but now we are in the middle of a significant accumulation of snow that has closed schools and businesses across the state. It may be time to discuss some safety tips if you need to venture out of your home and onto the snow & ice covered roads.

We found this article from the website Motor Biscuit with tips to help you stay safe on the roads:

  • Prepare Your Tires. Often with the colder weather your tires tend to lose some air as the rubber in them contracts. Making sure your tires are properly inflated, the proper PSI can be found on the tire itself or in your owner’s manual. Inspect the tires and make sure there are no defects such as cracks or bubbles. For some, it may be advisable to get a set of tires specifically designed for snow. Do research to see if this would be best in your area.
  • Check Your Battery. Batteries do have an expiration date, usually 3-5 years. As they get closer to their expiration date, cold weather can cause them to lose charge much quicker. Replace as needed to avoid being stranded with a dead battery. If you have an electric vehicle, have your battery tested to make sure it is in good working condition. Make sure it is fully charged as cold weather may affect your driving range.
  • Have an Emergency Kit. Recently hundreds of motorists were stranded for over 24 hours on I-95 in Virginia due to a sudden snowstorm & multiple car accidents. Many were stranded with no food or water. The National Safety Council has an article sharing what should be in your emergency kit.

Be sure to check out the full article from Motor Biscuit with more tips and links to additional articles on driving safely this winter!

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Reviewing Your Coverage

(Photo courtesy StockVault.net)

Reviewing Your Coverage

The past 2 years have seen a lot of changes in the way we work & live. Some have adapted to working/learning from home, opted for curbside or home delivery for groceries and other items, explored new hobbies. Along with that we have seen shortages in products/materials which in turn have increased prices significantly. Making sure to review your coverage to keep up with these lifestyle and price changes is especially important when it comes to insurance.

Here are some things to consider when reviewing your insurance coverage:

  • Replacement Cost Estimate. Insurance companies have been advising their agents to increase the replacement cost on dwellings from $110/sqft to as much as $200/sqft due to the higher costs of construction materials. The cost for a 1,000sqft home could cost almost double, so it is VERY important to make sure you have enough coverage.

Many insurance companies have opted for what is called an “extended replacement cost” rather than full replacement cost on their home insurance products. Generally this coverage adds an additional 25% to the dwelling coverage limit in case of a total replacement of the dwelling. In some cases this still may not be enough coverage so be sure to talk to your insurance agent about your home’s replacement value. Also make sure to let them know of any improvements you have made to the home such as a finished basement, interior remodel, new windows, etc. as this will impact the replacement cost of the dwelling.

  • Scheduled Items. Precious metals & gems have seen an increase over the past few years so it is important you have an updated appraisal for any scheduled jewelry you may have on your policy. It is recommended you get an updated appraisal at least every 3 years or so to verify that coverage on the items is accurate. Remember, coverage for losses involving scheduled items is a stated amount meaning you will get UP TO the listed amount on the policy. You don’t want to underinsure your scheduled items in case of a loss.
  • Vehicle Usage. As mentioned, many have adapted to working/learning from home which meant vehicles were/are spending less time on the road and therefore a lesser exposure to loss. Calculate your vehicle’s weekly mileage and multiply that by 52 weeks to get your approximate annual mileage. If your calculated mileage is 8,000 miles or less a year you should contact your insurance agent and make sure you are taking advantage of a lower mileage usage class as well as any potential low mileage discounts your insurance company may offer.
  • Side Hustles. With businesses having to shut down or reduce staff in order to stay afloat, many have opted to explore the side hustle economy to make ends meet. From food & grocery delivery (Instacart & Door Dash) to renting their vehicles (Turo & Zipcar), side hustles often bring in income with little/no additional equipment required. However, these types of side hustles may be excluded from coverage on your personal auto policy. Many policies explicitly exclude coverage for vehicles used to deliver goods/persons or using a personal vehicle in a commercial/business capacity (with some exceptions). It is best to check with your insurance agent to see what your insurance carrier has to say about these types of side hustles in regard to coverage.

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Collision Repair Facility Tips 2021

(Photo courtesy StockVault.net)

Collision Repair Facility Tips 2021

I heard an advertisement on the radio recently about a collision repair facility that was offering to waive up to $250 of a customer’s deductible. They claimed if a collision repair facility chose not to accept a customer’s deductible, it is legally their choice to do so. I think this was mentioned to let people know that it wasn’t some sort of scam or “shady” practice.

I am sure many people who hear the ad and have a collision claim with a deductible will possibly do business with the facility based on the $250 waiver. Most auto insurance clients these days carry a $500 collision deductible, so having to pay $250 instead of $500 is an attractive aspect.

The question is, however, is the collision repair facility some sort of philanthropist willing to waive up to $250 on every collision repair? What can you expect from a facility that gives such an enticing offer?

I can’t say whether or not the collision repair facility is a reputable one that does excellent work and where every customer is happy with their service and repairs. I do want to offer some tips in case you do find yourself in a situation where you need to get collision repair.

  • Check with Your Insurance Company. Most auto insurance carriers have a network of collision repair facilities that they have a relationship with. Some require an estimate from a particular repair shop first which you can then take to a repair facility of your choosing to match. Despite what people say, auto insurance carriers aren’t looking to “cheap out” on repairs to your vehicle. That would be a lawsuit waiting to happen, most have relationships with repair centers that are fair in their pricing and stand behind their work. This can streamline the process to get your vehicle repaired quickly.
  • Check the Collision Repair Facility’s Warranty. Most repair facilities have a warranty on their work, usually it’s for as long as you own the vehicle. Check the “fine print” to see if there are any “gotchas” or obscure requirements to keep the warranty valid. Check with your insurance carrier as well to see if they offer a guarantee, some do warranty the work that has been done by a repair facility. I found this warranty from a repair center in Texas that looks to be typical.
  • Check Reviews on Social Media. Reviews on the internet & social media can be a bit sketchy so you have to do your research. I like to do my research as I would checking items on Amazon, looking at the recent one-star reviews as well as the three-star and five-star reviews. Some one-star reviews could be from someone that didn’t fully-understand the repair process or was upset that their insurance carrier didn’t pay for certain parts or damage. Three-star reviews often give both pros and cons about their experience which gives good information on what to look out for when dealing with the repair facility. Five-star reviews of course are from customers that are very happy with not only the repair facility but also their insurance carrier on how they handled the claim.

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Gift-Giving Tips 2021

(Photo courtesy StockVault.net)

Gift-Giving Tips 2021

Many are getting ready for the holidays buying gifts online rather than going to the stores which can make for a hectic time buying more or forgetting someone. We found this article from Organise My House with 25 tips when it comes to gift-giving this holiday season.

  • Plan Your Giving. Having a list of people you are buying gifts for, what they like, and a budget will help cut down on overbuying & forgetting people.
  • Get Them As You Find Them. Waiting until December to do your Christmas shopping is a trap many of us fall into as we scramble. If you see something at other times of the year that a person on your list would like – buy it. Store them away in a central location and keep notes of purchases made throughout the year.
  • The 4 Gift Rule. A neat rule for kids especially – something they want, something they need, something to wear, & something to read. This will certainly help to make things “even” amongst children and eliminate fights over who got more gifts.
  • Wrap As They Come. As you purchase gifts, take time to quickly wrap them instead of waiting until all the gifts have been purchased and being overwhelmed with having to wrap a multitude of gifts in the span of a few hours. This will also help with “snoopers” as a wrapped gift is harder to determine.
  • Assemble Now. If at all possible, if any gifts require assembly it is best to assemble and wrap the gift being sure to include batteries if required. Many Christmas mornings have been ruined by frustrations over assembly and/or scrambling for the right kind of batteries.

Be sure to check out the full article from Organise My House for even more tips when it comes to gift-giving this holiday 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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Winter Vehicle Preparation Tips 2021

(Photo courtesy StockVault.net)

Winter Vehicle Preparation Tips 2021

We recently had our first significant snowfall in West Michigan and reports are coming in that more snow is in the forecast for the rest of the week. If you haven’t already, it is important to prepare your vehicle for the winter driving season. we found this article from The Weather Channel with tips to help you get ready for when the white stuff begins to fall.

  • Get a Check-Up. Take your vehicle in for service and have all the hoses/belts/fluids checked & replaced as necessary. Your brakes should be inspected to make sure they are in good working order.
  • Evaluate Your Tires. For many, tires on their vehicle are rated as “all-weather” meaning that they can handle summer and winter driving conditions. It’s important, however, to make sure the tires are in good condition. It’s a good idea to have your tires rotated & checked for wear to be sure that they will be able to handle the snow & ice. You can check the tread wear yourself using a penny. Place the penny with Lincoln’s head facing downward into the tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s eyes the tread is good to go. If the tread reaches to his hairline, it’s time to change your tires. Check each tire in 3 separate places for a consistent reading.
  • Consider Floor Mats. Think about getting a set of rubber floor mats to protect your car floor from the dirty slush, snow, & salt you will inevitably track into the vehicle. They are easy to install and even easier to clean.
  • Windshield Maintenance. If you’ve had any stone chips or cracks, it’s best to get them repaired before the cold weather comes. Stone chips & cracks will spread with the changes in temperatures which will compromise the safety integrity of the windshield. Consider replacing your wiper blades with ones that are rated for snow & ice and replace your wiper fluid with a winter mix that can help dissolve snow & ice quicker.

Be sure to check out the full article from The Weather Channel with more tips to help you prepare your vehicle for the winter!

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Thanksgiving Tips 2021

(Photo courtesy StockVault.net)

Thanksgiving Tips 2021

According to the news, Thanksgiving 2021 will be the busiest since the pandemic started with an estimated increase of 3.2% over 2019’s travelers figures. With all that traveling you know that Thanksgiving dinners will be festive and filled with love & enjoyment. We found a couple of articles to help you and your pets enjoy the holiday with friends & family while keeping everyone safe.

The Red Cross has some tips when it comes to cooking:

  • Watch Your Cooking. Always be attending to food you are cooking whether on a stove, grill, or outdoor deep fryer. If you have to leave, turn off the stove/deep fryer or extinguish any fires.
  • Move Loose Articles. Dishrags, food containers, paper towels, even curtains should be moved out of the way of the stove. While you’re at it, avoid wearing any loose clothing or jewelry while cooking.
  • Prepare for Fire. Keep a pan lid or cookie sheet nearby as well as a fire extinguisher just in case. A lid or cookie sheet over a fire can help to put it out, make sure the fire extinguisher is rated for kitchen fires including grease.

Zoetis Petcare has some tips to keep your furry friends safe at Thanksgiving as well:

  • Danger Foods. Don’t give your pet dark turkey meat or ham as well as avoid giving them turkey bones as these can splinter or cause a choking hazard. Avoid garlic, onions, leeks, & other seasonings as these are toxic to pets.
  • Good Foods. Baby carrots, green beans, apples, sweet potato are all pet-friendly treats for your pets.
  • Secure the Bags. Make sure you secure guests’ bags and coats away from your pets as items contained in them could make your pet sick. Sugar-free gum, candy bars, & medications are harmful to pets.

Be sure to check out the article from the Red Cross and Zoetis Petcare with more tips on making your Thanksgiving holiday safe and festive for you, your guests, and your pets!

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Hunting Safety Tips 2021

(Photo Courtesy StockVault.net)

Hunting Safety Tips 2021

Firearm hunting season for deer is coming up here in Michigan on November 15th with thousands of locals heading out the woods in the hopes of bagging a deer. We found this article and this article with tips on how to be safe while hunting this season:

Tree Stand Safety – injuries associated with tree stands are common so it is important to make sure that you are safe while using one.

  • Before using/setting up a tree stand, be sure to inspect all the equipment to make sure everything is solid and in good condition.
  • Wear a harness, being sure that it is tightened firmly around your body. Connect to the safety line before you make your ascent into the stand.
  • Wear Hearing Protection. It is recommended that you wear hearing protection since hearing impairment can happen at 85 decibels & above with gunshots averaging between 140dB and 150dB.
  • Hunters Colors. In the state of Michigan hunters are required to wear at least 50% hunter (or blaze) orange clothing that can be seen from all directions. It is recommended you wear as much hunter orange as you can to maximize your visibility.

-Prepare Your Gear. Make sure your firearms are in good working condition & bring the necessary tools to make simple repairs while in the field. Have a first aid kit & your cellphone charged. Bring a portable phone charger if you are going to be out for an extended period of time.

Be sure to check out both articles with more tips on being safe while hunting this 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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Fall Daylight Savings Tips 2021

(Photo Courtesy StockVault.net)

Fall Daylight Savings Tips 2021

Daylight Savings Time is coming up on Sunday and for many it will be a relief to get an “extra” hour of sleep. We have gathered some tips to help you this weekend as you prepare to transition for DST:

  • Prepare Your Furnace. Temps are dipping to near freezing in many parts of the country which means it is time to turn the furnace on. Before you do this, make sure you check the air filter and change as necessary. Furnace filters should be changed regularly as dust & debris can build up to make the furnace work harder thus increasing your energy costs. Have an HVAC technician come out to inspect the furnace and make sure everything is in good working order, the last thing you need is for the furnace to conk out in the middle of winter.

  • Check Your Smoke & Carbon Dioxide Alarms. Your should replace the batteries at least once a year to be sure they are in good working order. Use a vacuum with the brush attachment and gently clean any dust or debris that has collected inside them. If your alarms are 10 years old, it is time to replace them.

  • Check Your Chimney. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, inspect them to be sure that everything is clear and in good working order. Check that the flue is operational & hire a professional chimney sweep to clean/inspect the chimney. Birds and other animals can make nests/homes in chimneys which can cause a fire/smoke hazard. A professional sweep can check for missing mortar or damaged bricks which can cause issues.

  • Check Your Insulation. Check the insulation in your attic as well as the seals around windows/doors and repair as necessary. Inadequate insulation will cause ice dams to form and increase energy costs. Sealing windows & doors will help to eliminate drafts & potentially water from entering the home.

  • Rotate Your Emergency Supplies. If you have an emergency supply kit together, consider rotating out the bottled water and canned goods. Check expiration dates and replace as necessary. Also consider purchasing an emergency food kit that contains dehydrated foodstuffs that can last a long time.

These are just a few suggestions of things to do this weekend as you prepare for Daylight Savings Time.

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Halloween Safety Tips 2021

(Photo Courtesy of StockVault.net)

Halloween Safety Tips 2021

Halloween 2021 should hopefully be better than 2020 with more communities participating in the holiday and safely offering events for young ones to enjoy. The FDA offers some tips to help keep your kids safe during the holiday:

  • Observe Safe Practices. Remembering the Covid-19 protocols when possible including covering nose/mouth with a mask, social distancing, & washing of hands/using hand santizer when applicable.
  • Check Your Costume. Masks can often obscure your vision. Wear makeup and hats when possible. Check the fit of your costume to make sure you have freedom of movement and won’t trip. Adjust as needed. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket or sweater in case of cold weather.
  • Be Seen & Be Safe. Wear bright costumes or apply reflective tape to costumes to be more visible. Don’t forget to bring glowsticks or a flashlight to help light your way as well as make you more visible to vehicles.
  • Nibblers Beware. Eat a snack before going out to prevent the urge to “nibble” on treats while out trick-or-treating. Parents should inspect candy at home before allowing children to indulge.

Be sure to read the full article from the FDA with more tips on keeping kids safe at Halloween. Check out this safety film from 1977 that still offers some great tips as well!

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!

Categories: Uncategorized