Disaster Preparedness 2021

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Disaster Preparedness 2021

With the recent events happening in the southeast with gasoline shortages and some talking about food shortages at the beginning of tornado season, it would be wise to put together a disaster plan in case of a situation where you either need to vacate your home or remain in your home for a long period of time. The website MoneyCrashers has a great article on how to prepare for a disaster of any kind:

  • Get an Escape Plan. In situations where you may have to evacuate from your home and get to a safe place, have an escape route & checklist prepared ahead of time. Look for routes not using major roads or highways and have alternate routes planned in case of road blockages.
  • Communication Plan. Cell service may become spotty or overloaded with thousands of people trying to use the network to call their loved ones. Social networking or messaging apps may still work when texting or phone calls don’t. Save battery life by closing apps you’re not using, putting the phone on “airplane mode”, and reducing your screen’s brightness can help. A solar charger can be a life-saver when the power goes out.
  • Meeting Plan. If you’re in the neighborhood, choose a tree or other familiar place to meet in case of a house fire. If you’re outside your neighborhood, choose a familiar location in town where your family can meet. If you have to leave town, choose a meet-up location and print off a Google Map with directions on how to get there. Keep it in your vehicles for easy access.
  • Supplies Plan. Check out the article for a 72-hour portable emergency kit as well as a list of supplies to keep at home, keeping the kit within easy reach and the rest of the supplies in one central area like a closet or basement.

Be sure to read the full article at MoneyCrashers with more detailed tips on how to purify water, preparing for a power outage, & other important information.

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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ATV & UTV Safety

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ATV & UTV Safety

It’s not only motorcycle season but also ATV/UTV season as well. In recent years UTVs (or “side by sides”) have become a popular option for people to ride the trails & dunes with their friends and kids. As fun as they are, they are still responsible for many injuries and deaths each year. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has found that ATV/UTV injuries result in roughly 100,000 emergency room visits per year with 84% of those being treated and released. They also estimate that there are approximately over 736 deaths each year attributed to accidents involving ATVs/UTVs.

Motosport.com offers these tips if you are planning on riding either an ATV or UTV this year:

  • Wear Your Gear! ALWAYS wear safety gear including helmet, goggles, boots, & gloves. Most UTVs offer safety harnesses, USE THEM!
  • Pre-Ride Checkup. Always do an inspection on your ATV or UTV before heading out on the trails or dunes. Check the tires and rims for damage, make sure the controls are responsive. Check the chain and sprockets for breaks or signs of wear.
  • Don’t Ride Fatigued. It’s fun to hit the trails and can be some great exercise since it demands both physical and mental control. Over time, however, the bumps and rattles can wear you down. Take a break if you feel tired.
  • Passenger Safety. Most ATVs allow for one rider only and UTVs usually can handle 2-4 people. Don’t exceed the number of passengers and certainly don’t have 2 people on a one rider ATV. Be smart.
  • Watch Your Surroundings. Be aware of the terrain ahead, to the sides, and behind you. Forest creatures can come out of nowhere as well as other riders. Be safe.

Make sure you check out the full article over at Motosport.com for additional tips on keeping yourself safe when riding the trails or dunes on your ATV/UTV!

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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RV Preparation Tips

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RV Preparation Tips

Spring has sprung in the midwest as temperatures are on the rise. RV sales are up almost 20% over last year as people are opting to camp out rather than stay in hotels with the Coronavirus pandemic still in effect.

We found a couple of articles, one from KOA and another from RV Life with tips on preparing your RV for the camping season!:

  • Check the Tires. Make sure the air pressure is correct (information is on either the tire itself or the RV owners manual) and check for cracks or other damage to the sidewalls & valve stems. Don’t forget to make sure the spare is good to go as well!
  • Do a Walk-Around. Remove any protective covering you may have used when you stored the RV for the winter. Check for any punctures in the siding/roof, tree limb damage, or indications of animal damage. Also check turn signals, brake lights, & other exterior accessories/equipment as well to be sure everything is in working condition with no damaged/missing parts.
  • Air it Out. Open all the windows and vents to make sure they are in good working order and allow it to air out. Give it a thorough cleaning and vacuum everything.
  • Flush it Out. Flush the fresh water system to get rid of the winterizing fluid you may have used before storing the RV for the winter. Check the water pump, test all the valves/faucets/etc. to be sure there are no leaks or blockages.
  • Check the Appliances. Be sure to check that the fire extiguishers are up to date, the carbon monoxide & smoke alarms are in good working order. Check the water heater/stove/fridge to make sure they are working properly.

Be sure to check out the article from RV Life for more tips on getting your RV ready for camping season. Also check out the article from KOA with even more tips!

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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Your Home’s Replacement Cost

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Your Home’s Replacement Cost

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the world hard. Businesses having to shut down for long periods of time & then faced with restrictions and precautions when reopening, people out of work, it has been very difficult. The price of goods and services are rising and predictions are they will continue to rise over the next year and possibly into 2022. The price of eggs, meat, & other grocery staples have risen, gasoline & natural gas prices are on the rise as well. The construction supply industry has been very hit hard and prices are rising because of it. An article from Fortune Magazine states that prices for lumber have increased by 193% and are expected to rise even higher in the coming months. Steel prices are increasing as well according to this article.

What does this mean to you and your homeowners insurance? It means that the cost to rebuild your home today will cost more today than it did in 2020 or even in 2010. Prior to 2021, most insurance carrier used the approximate calculation for the rebuilding of a home of between $110 and $120 a square foot. Because of the skyrocketing costs of construction supplies, this amount has changed and the new figures are between $175 and $180 a square foot with some insurance companies going as high as $200 a square foot.

We recommend that you contact your hometown insurance agent and discuss the current coverage amount on your home (and any outbuildings) to verify the amount is enough to rebuild your home. In some instances you may find that your home is over-insured. This could be due to the built-in coverage insurance companies add for inflation which is usually between 2% and 5% depending on the carrier. If you have been with a carrier for a long time this amount compounds year after year which can get over and above the actual replacement cost of the home.

It’s important to make sure your home is insured to value as many clauses in homeowners insurance policies require this in order to have either the Guaranteed Replacement Cost or Extended Replacement Cost endorsement. Again, we recommend you contact your hometown insurance agent and discuss the coverage amount on your home to be sure it is adequate to replace it in case of a total 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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Spring Clean Up Tips 2021

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Spring Yard Clean Up 2021

This week our local city has let us know that we can place our yard debris (no grass or leaves) at the curb for pick up. Spring has arrived and it’s time to clear out the detritus and prepare your yard for the season. We found this article from The Spruce with tips on cleaning up your yard:

  • Prune Your Perennials. There are some woody shrubs/plants that need to be cut back each spring because blooms only appear on new branches. Allowing them to remain during the winter protects the plants from damage but in the spring they need to be cut back usually a few inches above the new growth or buds on the lower stems.
  • Cut Back Your Grasses. You don’t need to wait for these plants to show any signs of new growth before trimming them. Trim them back a few inches from the ground and they will grow back when they are ready.
  • Watch the Roses. Your climate will determine how you care for your roses in the spring. If you live where roses never go dormant, a good pruning and removal of leaves is important to shock the plant into thinking it was dormant and needs to start growing again. If you live in a climate where they do go dormant, pruning should occur just as the leaf buds begin to grow larger.
  • Tidy those Evergreens. Most evergreens do not require any real care other than some trimming to tidy them up and fertilize them.
  • Yank them Weeds. Spring is a good time to tackle weeds as the ground is moist and easier to pull young weeds. Don’t compost these as their seeds can circulate within the mulch and if spread will cause them to return.

Be sure to check out the full article from The Spruce with more tips on preparing your yard this spring!

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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Spring Motorcycle Tips

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Spring Motorcycle Tips

Here in Michigan it looks as though Old Man Winter has hit the road and spring is upon us. After a year into the pandemic people are looking to “get back to normal” and that means pulling out those toys from the garage and enjoying the fresh air of the open road.

For many, their motorcycles may have been stored all year and this spring is the first time they are able to ride. Before you hop on your bike and ride, we found this article from Rawhide Youth Services with tips on getting your motorcycle ready for the riding season.

  • Check for Critters & Junk. Whether or not you covered your bike for the winter, small critters may have taken up winter residence in your exhaust or intake. Check these areas thoroughly before you start up your bike to avoid any “incidents”.
  • Drain the Tank. If you didn’t property winterize your bike, the gas in the tank may be stale and prevent it from starting. Drain the tank and check the gas that comes out. If there are brown flecks, this could be an indicator that the inside of the tank has rusted. Treat the tank with acid remover to be sure that the tank is clear and to prevent problems with the fuel system.
  • Use Stabilizer. There may still be gas in the fuel system, so use a bottle of fuel stabilizer (according to the directions) to help clear out the old gas and maintain the fuel system.
  • Change That Oil. Storing the bike during the winter could cause condensation to develop and mix with the oil. It’s recommended to change the oil and filter at the beginning of every riding season to ensure everythng is good to go.
  • Top Off Those Fluids. Check the brake and hydraulic fluids for color & consistency. If the fluid looks dirty or different from fresh fluid, it is time for a change.

Be sure to check out the full article from Rawhide Youth Services for the rest of the tips to prepare your motorcycle for the upcoming riding 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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Spring Cleaning Tips 2021

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Spring Cleaning Tips 2021

Here in the Lake Michigan lakeshore area we are getting forecasts of 60+ degrees as far as outdoor temperatures in the next 10 days. Winter is losing its battle and spring is about to be sprung. We found this article from the Air Force Safety Center with tips on being safe while getting your spring cleaning done:

  • Don’t Be in a Hurry. Spring cleaning can be especially tiring, so don’t be in a rush to get things done. Take frequent breaks and don’t attempt to tackle a task if you’re exhausted.
  • Use Your Legs, Not Your Back. Having the proper lifting posture (back straight, lifting with your legs) will reduce strain or potential injury to your back. Wear shoes to avoid injury, & if you cannot move it yourself or cannot find someone to move the item – just leave it. It would be safer to clean around it than hurt yourself (or others) attempting to move it.
  • Watch Out Above (and Below). Be safe while using a step stool or a ladder, making sure someone is there to hold the ladder or steady you on a step stool. A good rule for ladders is not to let your belly button go beyond the sides of the ladder.
  • Slippery When Wet. Take proper steps when it comes to cleaning floors, inform others of the wet floor(s) & put up barriers to keep young children and pets from the areas to avoid injury.
  • Empty That Bucket. When working with buckets of water, either empty the bucket or place it in an inaccessible area if you are going to take a break or walk away for a few minutes. Children can drown in only a few inches of water.

Be sure you check out the full article from the Air Force Safety Center for even more tips on how to be safe while spring cleaning!

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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Flood Safety Tips

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Flood Safety Tips

Spring is fast-approaching and that means the weather will get warmer and wetter with the spring rains. Oftentimes the spring rains bring flooding along with them. Our agency was recently appointed by a new flood insurance carrier and so we thought that a podcast on flood safety tips was appropriate. We found this article from the Centers for Disease Control with tips on what to do during and after a flood occurs:

  • Prepare Your Emergency Kit. You should store at minimum a gallon of water per person & pet, which is a day’s worth. Keep enough food & water to last for 3 days.
  • Turn Off Utilities. If you are forced to evacuate, they recommend turning off the power at the main power switch, shutting off both water and gas supplies as well.
  • Avoid Flooded Areas. Avoid driving through flooded areas or areas with surface water. Six inches of flood water is enough to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Stay Out of Water. Flood water is contaminated with sewage, chemicals, & diseases that can make you sick. Don’t use it to bathe, wash, or prepare food.
  • Throw It Out. Toss any food or bottled water that has or may have come into contact with floodwater.

Be sure to read the full article from the Centers for Disease Control with more tips on what to do before and after a flood has occurred!

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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Walking Benefits & Safety Tips

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Walking Benefits & Safety Tips

Here in Michigan the snow is almost gone and local weather forecasts are stating we may see temperatures approaching 60 degrees next week. With the warm weather approaching, more and more people will be exercising outdoors to take advantage of the sunshine & fresh air amid the current Coronavirus pandemic. MSN has an article on why walking is the best exercise during the COVID-19 lockdowns. We also found this article from Healthline with reasons why walking is good for you and tips on how to be safe while walking:

  • Strengthens Your Heart. Walking at least 30min a day for 5 days a week can reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Boosts Your Immune System. A study found that adults who walked 30-45min a day had fewer sick days, fewer respiratory infections, & if they did get sick the symptoms were less.
  • Mental Health Benefits. Walking can help improve your mental health and increase your self-esteem.
  • Designated Areas. Be sure to walk in areas designated for pedestrian traffic, well-lit areas are best.
  • Stay Hydrated. Drink water both before and after your walk to help flush toxins from your body and prevent dehydration issues.
  • Good Shoes. Make sure you wear appropriate footwear that offer good support of your heels & arches.

Be sure to check out the full article from Healthline with more benefits & tips to keep you safe while walking.

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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Ice Dam Tips

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Ice Dam Tips

Ice dams are becoming a menace in the midwest with the fluctuating temperatures. A cycle of melting snow during the daytime and refreezing at night can cause ice build-up that will eventually find its way inside your home. This article from Money Crashers has tips on preventing ice dams and what to do when one occurs on your roof.

  • Rake It. Using a roof rake to remove snow right away while it is still fluffy is much easier than when the snow has become wet or hard from compacting. Snow rakes can be had for anywhere from $30 to $80.
  • Heat Cables. Most home improvement stores offer DIY kits with electrically-heated cables to run along your roof’s edge to melt snow before ice can form. Costs can vary depending on the size & length of your roof.
  • Add Insulation. Improving the insulation in your attic can help prevent ice dams from occurring. Plug gaps and find other areas where warm air is leaking into the attic. Just adding more insulation does not help plug gaps or leaks.
  • Chip It. If you have an ice dam already, don’t go whacking away with a claw hammer or hatchet. An ice pick or rubber mallet can help break up the ice and prevent damage to your shingles.
  • Puck It. There are commercially-available de-icers out there, puck-shaped chemicals you can throw onto the ice dams to help melt or create channels in the ice dams. Read the labels as some products could discolor shingles or damage sensitive shrubs or plants.
  • Sock It. Filling socks or nylon stockings with calcium carbonate and laying them perpendicular to your roof can create channels for melted snow to runoff your roof. Again, be wary of plants as calcium carbonate could damage more sensitive plants & shrubs.

Be sure to check out the full article from Money Crashers with more tips on preventing & dealing with ice dams.

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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