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Flood Smart

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Flood Smart

Flooding is a concern all across the country. Homes devastated, roads destroyed, businesses ruined. According to the government, all 50 states have experienced floods within the last 5 years. It’s important to be safe when flood watches/warnings are reported in your area. A recent article we found from Servpro in their monthly newsletter shares tips on what to do when faced with floodwaters:

– Stay away from floodwaters. It can take 6 inches of water to sweep you off your feet and take you with the currents. If you come to water that is more than ankle-deep, turn around and find some other route.

– Do not attempt to cross flooded roads. Cars have been swept away by 2 feet of water, if you come to a flooded road, find another route around. If you are caught in rising water, get out of your vehicle and find higher ground as quickly as possible.

– Keep kids away from the floodwaters. Curiosity about running water or “pretty rainbow water” (contaminated water) can be dangerous.

You can got to msc.fema.gov to see if your home or business is at-risk for flooding.

 

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 marsiljeins@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Categories: Uncategorized

Tips for Home-Sharing

 

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(photo courtesy of StockVault.net)

Tips for Home-Sharing

“Home-Sharing” is becoming a popular stream of income for home/condo owners. Short-term rental through sites like Air B-n-B, VBRO, HomeAway, OneFineStay, & others help home & condo owners rent their places out to “guests” like a hotel but without the licensing/regulation needed in the hotel industry.

Insurance carriers are scrambling to define this new form of short-term rental since it involves the homeowner’s primary residence. Much like a few years ago when insurance companies defined “ride-sharing” on their auto products to deny coverage for incidents occurring when the driver of the car used it for commercial purposes (Uber/Lyft/etc.). The same stipulations seem to hold up on the home insurance policy as on the auto policy – if you’re using your home for commercial purposes (short-term rentals), there will be no coverage for anything that happens to the home while you are renting it out.

The hosting site’s “guarantee” that hosts will not be out for damages, isn’t an insurance policy and in no way means that the hosting site will cover the damage. Some insurance carriers are beginning to offer “gap insurance” to cover these “gaps” in insurance coverage for additional premium.

For those that still want to enter the arena of home-sharing, here are some tips from Kiplinger’s when it comes to renting out your home online:

-Is it legal? If you belong to a condo association or HOA, check with them to see if they will allow short-term rentals. Also check with your local government to see what regulations/restrictions there are for short-term rentals or if they allow short-term rentals at all.

-Jump through hoops. Some cities/municipalities will require licenses for short-term rentals that may include inspections of the property, submission of floor plans, and explanations as far as how many guests/ how many days rented.

-Insurance. As mentioned above, many insurance carriers are scrambling to exclude short-term rentals from coverage on their home/condo products. Check with your insurance agent to see if you have coverage and if not, where to get it. Remember, the hosting site’s “guarantee” often contain many loopholes to protect them from paying for damages from guests using your property.

-Taxes. The hosting sites may take care of some of the taxes for you, but you still need to keep accurate rental records because you will be paying income tax on the rental fees you collect. Depending on how you run your home-sharing rental will determine where to report those fees on your taxes.

 

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 marsiljeins@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Categories: Uncategorized

6 Tips for Selling Your Vehicle

6 Tips for Selling Your Vehicle

Thanks to an article from US News and World Report as well as a couple of incidents at the insurance agency, we spoke about 6 tips for selling your car/truck:

1) Study the Market. Check your vehicle’s value via KBB or Edmunds first, then check local listings for similar vehicles to find the right pricing for your vehicle. Seasons factor into the pricing, sports cars & convertibles sell better/quicker in summer and SUVs/trucks tend to sell better in the fall/winter.

2) Assemble Your Paperwork. check with your DMV to see what paperwork will be needed when it comes to selling/transferring the title to the new owner. It’s also a good idea to gather any maintenance records for the vehicle as well. MAKE A COPY OF THE SIGNED TITLE AND BILL OF SALE and keep them for your records in case of a lawsuit or insurance claim.

3) Inspect It. Have a mechanic give it a “once-over” so you can properly price the vehicle. Make the minor repairs, swap out tires, invest in new floor mats, sure it’s money up front but it you will be able to command a higher price for the vehicle if the prospective buyer knows exactly what they are getting into mechanically.

4) Detail It. If the vehicle is worth it, spend the $100-$200 to have it completely detailed inside and out. Prospective buyers will love the “new car” smell & feel and you can probably get a little more in the sale negotiations. If the vehicle isn’t worth a full detail, clean the vehicle yourself. People will be more interested in buying a clean vehicle.

Check out the article at US News and World Report for more tips on selling your 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 marsiljeins@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Categories: Uncategorized

Spring Cleaning (again)

Spring Cleaning (again)

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Spring Maintenance for Your Home

When springtime rolls around in Zeeland, Michigan, almost everyone thinks of cleaning. That’s fine (we probably all need to do a little more of that, after all), but there’s something even more important to keep in mind: home maintenance.

So, when it’s time to set your clocks ahead for daylight-saving time and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, give your home a checkup, too. Here are some suggestions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development:

*Interior and appliances
-Check the basement and/or crawlspace for any signs of standing water or dripping.
-Pull your dryer out and clean the exhaust hose and vent (lint found here is a common cause of house fires).
-Vacuum refrigerator/freezer coils for efficiency.
-Clean exhaust fan outlets and screens.
-Check all air filters and replace, if necessary.

*Roof, siding, windows
-Check for damage to your roof and have a professional inspection, if necessary.
-Go into the attic. If there is visible moisture or discoloration, your roof might be leaking.
-Examine the paint on your siding and trim. If it is peeling, you might need new paint to protect against the effects of weather.
-Check for leaks around window and door sills. Improving your seals can lower your energy bills.

*Yard and exterior
-Check for signs of rodents and other pests.
-Clean debris from gutters and downspouts, and make sure they are draining away from the home.
-Trim overhanging tree branches and shrubs.

Remember, winter weather can cause significant damage that is easy to spot, but it often results in wear and tear that homeowners can miss if they aren’t looking closely. It’s well worth it to spend a little time on home maintenance this spring, so that wear and tear doesn’t turn into something more serious. It might be time to do some “spring cleaning” of your insurance policies as well! Give us a call today at Marsilje & Vander Plow Insurance Agency for a quote, 616-396-1497!

 

Content provided by Safeco Insurance

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Leasing Cars

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(Photo courtesy of StockVault.net)

 

Leasing Cars

On average, 30% of all new cars are leased each year. With annual new car production at nearly 100 million cars, that’s a lot of leased vehicles. Unlike a vehicle purchase, you are essentially “renting” the vehicle for a specified period of time whether 2 years or up to 10 years(!). When it comes to leasing a vehicle, there are things to be aware of – especially when it comes to insurance.

This article from Bankrate offers 5 mistakes to avoid when leasing a vehicle:

– Paying Too Much Down. Pay attention to the lease terms, often companies offer low monthly lease rates due to a huge prepayment. Most reasonable leases ask for $2000 or less, you can find companies willing to lease a vehicle with no money down. Do your research.

– Forgetting to Purchase Gap Insurance. Gap Insurance is essential when leasing a vehicle. Most insurance carriers settle total losses of vehicles on Actual Cash Value at the time of loss. This can be detrimental when it comes to leasing a vehicle as most often the value the lease company has on a vehicle is more than ACV. Gap Insurance does just that – fills the “gap” left between what the ACV of the vehicle is and what is still owed on the lease. You can purchase Gap Insurance from your insurance carrier ONLY if the vehicle is new/never been titled. Otherwise, for older model leases, you would need to purchase Gap Insurance from the dealer.

– Underestimating Your Annual Mileage. Most leases afford for the average of 10,000-12,000 miles a year (what a typical American drives per year). Going over the set mileage could garner an additional fee per mile (anywhere from 10-30 cents a mile). Take a look at your driving habits, keep track of your mileage for a typical week to calculate your average mile usage. If it comes close to the annual mileage on the lease, consider purchasing the higher mileage limit (which will increase your monthly rate).

– Not Maintaining the Vehicle. The term “normal wear & tear” varies from leasing company to leasing company. Some consider scratches/imperfections of less than a credit card are “normal wear & tear”, while others would require the vehicle to be returned in near-showroom condition. Check the lease to see about back-end requirements when turning the vehicle back in.

– Leasing for Too Long. Most leases are from 2-4 years, with an average being 3 years/36,000 miles or about as long as the manufacturer’s warranty. If you plan on leasing a vehicle for longer, consider purchasing an extended warranty or flat-out purchasing the vehicle. Leasing for longer than 3 years, even with the extended warranty, may justify purchasing a quality pre-owned 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 marsiljeins@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Categories: Uncategorized

5 Things You Shouldn’t Do During a Power Outage

 

5 Things You Shouldn’t Do During a Power Outage

 

With the recent “Bomb Cyclone” weather we’ve had in the Midwest, power outages in our area were prevalent. Thankfully our power was restored within 24 hours, for some it took a lot longer. With that said, we’ve shared tips on what to do when the power goes out in previous podcasts but we’ve never share what you should not do. Here are a few tips from the article at Reader’s Digest that contains many more interesting tips!:

– Light Candles. Sounds counter-intuitive, but there are hazards to consider such as fire or injury from spilled wax.

– Keep Electronics Plugged In. Hopefully you have surge protecting power strips for your major electronics, but to be safer you should unplug the strips when a power outage or lightning storm is imminent to avoid damage.

– Leave Your Freezer Half Empty. A full freezer should stay cold for up to 48 hours, cut that in half for a half-filled freezer. Fill gallon jugs or storage bags with water to fill up the freezer, their cost is next to nothing and you can use the frozen water bags in coolers or ice packs for injuries.

– Ignore Traffic Rules. Here in Michigan it is now law that in case of a power outage or 4-way flashing red, intersections are to be treated as 4-way stops. The rules of the road don’t go offline when the power goes out.

– Operate a Generation in Your Garage. Countless stories are out there of people using generators improperly, either in a garage or non-ventilated area that resulted in death. Read the owner’s manual for proper placement/operation of the generator.

 

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 marsiljeins@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Categories: Uncategorized

5 Things Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover

 

5 Things Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover

 

A standard home insurance policy offers coverage for a variety of items it will cover, as well as a list of items they won’t cover. On today’s podcast we focused in on 5 items you may be surprised to find are not covered.

 

Collectibles/memorabilia/fine arts/antiques – most insurance agents add Replacement Cost-Contents coverage to a home insurance policy that allows for an insured to replace items (“new for old”) damaged by covered losses rather than get Actual Cash Value for them. When it comes to collectibles/memorabilia/fine arts/antiques, their values are derived from their uniqueness/rarity which presents a problem when it comes to replacing the item(s). Coverage can be available via endorsement/scheduling/separate policy.

Animals/Pets – live animals are not covered on a home insurance policy. You can purchase an Animal Mortality policy (for farm animals),  or pet health insurance to cover injuries/ailments regarding your animals.

Faulty Workmanship/Inherent Defect – for example if a contractor wires a house incorrectly or fails to proper drainage, or a design flaw causes a loss to occur to the home there would be no coverage. You would have to go after the contractor/manufacturer/architect.

Mold – mold is a hot button issue these days. While most home policies have coverage for mold – it is limited in coverage/cause. $10,000 is the standard coverage limitation and only for covered water losses that have been properly repaired. It does not cover mold issues resulting from non-covered losses.

Earth Movement – this can include mudslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, shock waves resulting from volcanic eruptions/earthquakes, & sinkholes. Coverage can often be purchased for these perils, but only prior to the event and there may be exclusion zones where coverage cannot be purchased due to the likelihood of 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 marsiljeins@gmail.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Categories: Uncategorized