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First Time Home Buyers

March 24, 2016 Leave a comment

First Time Home Buyers

 

Walking through the door of your new home is an exciting milestone. But the steps it takes to get there—inspections, negotiations and financial preparation—can be exhausting. Don’t worry! Soon enough, you’ll unlock the door to your new home, clutter the floor with packing peanuts, argue over what you “forgot” to pack and fill it with new memories. But before you get your keys, you’ll need to discuss purchasing homeowners insurance.

Homeowners policies are often complex and written in language that can be difficult to comprehend. So, it’s easy to get lost in the details, sign up for whatever sounds okay and hope for the best—and you’re not alone. According to a 2013 survey, 60 percent of homes in the United States are under insured, and the average homeowner would need to foot the bill for 17 percent of rebuilding costs.1 For many, this means making sacrifices and not being able to rebuild their home to its former glory.

It’s important to understand the basics of homeowners insurance so you can purchase a policy that meets your needs. A standard policy provides coverage to protect you from the expense of a dwelling, personal property or liability loss. Your insurance will also cover other structures on your property, like a fence or detached garage. And if your home becomes uninhabitable, Loss of Use will cover additional costs to maintain your normal standard of living, including living accommodations, food and transportation.

Simple enough, right? Now that you have a basic understanding of what’s in a standard policy, here are seven tips to keep in mind when purchasing insurance for your new home.

  1. Research before you buy
    Know what you’re getting into and what risks are involved before purchasing a house. A good place to start is the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report for the property.2 CLUE reports will tell you the claims and losses on the home for the past seven years. Also, research the location and look into aspects that can affect your premium, such as the neighborhood crime rate and distance to a fire station.
  2. Know the difference: replacement cost vs. market value
    Your insurance will traditionally be based on the replacement cost of your home. Replacement cost is the cost to rebuild your home with similar type and quality materials. You’ll want to be sure that this amount is enough to cover a total loss. A market value policy only covers up to the current cash value of your home. The cost of clearing debris and rebuilding your home will most likely be greater than its cash value, so a market value policy will only cover a portion of these expenses.
  3. Fill in coverage gaps
    Every policy has exclusions, and it’s important to fill in coverage gaps that can affect your unique needs. For example, flood, earthquake and back-up sewer damages aren’t typically covered in a standard policy. If you’re anticipating any of these issues, it may be wise to add additional coverage.You also may want to consider adding extended replacement cost coverage for your dwelling or an umbrella policy for liability coverage. These broader policies set a limit above the amount of coverage you receive from your typical homeowners policy.
  4. Bundle up
    Often, insurance companies will offer a discount on one policy if you also purchase additional policies, such as auto or life insurance, with their company. This practice is called bundling and can potentially help you save money on your premium.
  5. Be smart about filing a claim
    Filing a claim is an essential step to recovering from a loss. And there are many things you can do to create an easier and more effective claims process. First, keep good records. Document important conversations and save receipts and contracts. Also, keep a good inventory of your home—you can even use an app or a website to keep track of your items digitally.When the time comes to report a claim, be sure you have all of this information plus other specifications about your home on hand and ready to pass along. Then, file quickly. Insurance providers have varying amounts of time allotted to report a claim. Be sure to file within these time limits to ensure that your loss is covered.
  6. Keep up-to-date
    Review your policies every year. Changes to your home and even your neighborhood can raise or lower your premium. If you’ve made an addition to your home, such as a finished basement or swimming pool, you’ll want to increase your policy so that, in the instance of a large property or liability loss, you’re not underinsured.On the other hand, if risks have been reduced, your premium could decrease. Additions to your home, such as a new roof, burglar alarm, fence or pool cover, can reduce risk and potentially lower your premium.
  7. Talk to an expert
    The best way to determine your coverage needs is by speaking with an independent agent. Your agent will review your situation, house and location to make the best policy recommendation for you. Your agent can also explain the details of your policy and optional coverages you may want to add.

1 – Marshall & Swift/Boeckh 2013 Insurance to Value Index
2 – Nasdaq

Coverages described above may not be available in all states. Please contact a local independent Grange agent for complete details on coverages and discounts. If the policy coverage descriptions in this article conflict with the language in the policy, the language in the policy applies.

Contact Us!

At Marsilje & 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!

 

Article content provided by Grange Insurance

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Stealing Cars

March 17, 2016 Leave a comment

Stealing Cars

 

Most people would say their car is one of the most valuable assets they own — if not the most valuable. Despite that, however, some people make it downright easy for thieves to drive off in their pride and joy.

At Marsilje & Vander Plow Insurance Agency, we don’t want you walking out your door to an empty driveway or leaving a store only to find some broken glass left behind in your parking space. So take care to avoid these five mistakes.

* Leave your car running … and unattended. We know it can be chilly in the mornings, and who wants to wait in a cold car while it warms up? Well, a thief certainly won’t mind the chill — as he’s driving away in your car while you’re finishing that cup of coffee in your kitchen. If your car is running, you should be in it. Period. Even if you’re just running over to the ATM to get some cash or dropping off some mail.
* Keep a spare set of keys inside the car. Law enforcement agencies say this is a great way to turn a car prowler into a car thief. They’re already breaking into your car to get a phone, or a laptop, etc. What do you think they’re going to do when they find a set of keys? They’re not going to drop them off on your porch with a nice note, that’s for sure.
* Put valuables in plain sight. Seems simple, but we’ve all made this mistake. You’ll just be in the store for a second, after all, so who cares if you leave your smartphone on the front seat? Or items from your other errands in the back seat? Be smart — if you have to leave items in your car, put them in the trunk, or at least hide them as best you can. And do it before you get to your next destination.
* Leave your car unsecured. The best thieves can work wonders with a window that’s left open even just a crack. And even the worst thieves can steal a car that’s been left unlocked, with no alarm set.
*Assume nobody would want to steal your car. Think your car is too old or too undesirable for a thief to bother? Scrap metal is worth money, so never assume that your car is safe — even if you think it’s just a “junker.”

Keeping thieves away helps to keep everyone’s insurance costs down, so avoiding these mistakes not only will save you hassle, it will save you money as well. So stay safe, not only on the roads, but in the parking lots as well!

Contact Us!

At Marsilje & 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!

Content provided by Safeco Insurance

Categories: Uncategorized

Spring Cleaning

March 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Spring Cleaning

 

Spring Maintenance for Your Home

When springtime rolls around in Holland, 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

Breaking the Cycle

Breaking the Cycle

 

This week Matt talks about a subject that is hard for some. When your auto insurance policy lapses or cancels, oftentimes you find yourself having to go to a “sub-standard” or “high-risk” insurance carrier. The premiums for these carriers can be astronomical, possibly due to a high turn-over of clientele (those that make a down payment for a 30 day binder and don’t continue the policy) & the insurance record for many clientele.

Having a hometown insurance agent to guide you through difficult insurance choices is the best thing you can have. Maintaining that policy for the 6 month period will help you to hopefully find a lower premium at renewal. It’s hard, we know, but there can be light at the end of the “sub-standard” or “high risk” tunnel if you can do it…

Live in Michigan and in need of a hometown insurance agent? Give us a call at (616) 396-1497 today!

Categories: Uncategorized