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Archive for September, 2016

Storm Safety

September 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Storm Safety

When a big storm hits in your area, you hunker down inside, relying on your home to protect you and your family. Once that storm passes, though, it’s time to repay the favor — identifying damage and protecting your home from further issues.

The National Storm Damage Center has a number of resources and tips for homeowners. Here are four major things the agency – and we here at Marsilje & Vander Plow Insurance Agency – recommends you check after a storm:

1. Your roof: If you see holes, split seams or missing shingles on your roof or if you notice leaking inside or out, it’s a good idea to have a qualified inspector come assess the situation.

2. Your exterior: Siding, brick and stucco are all vulnerable to storm damage. You’ll want to look for cracking, chipping or dings and dents in siding, and for holes in stucco. Look closely and at different times of the day. Some homeowners don’t notice damage until it’s too late to file a claim, and different lighting can reveal damage you didn’t see before.

3. Driveways and walkways: Cracking and splitting can create safety hazards, as well as reduce the lifespan of the concrete.

4. Trees: According to the National Storm Damage Center, fallen trees and limbs cause more than $1 billion in damage annually. Check roofs, vehicles, fences and machinery for fallen limbs that may have caused damage or could pose a risk. Clean up what you safely can and rely on a reputable tree removal service to handle the rest. Depending on the circumstances, your homeowners insurance policy may help with tree removal and damage repair costs – if you experience a covered loss, that is.

A few more helpful tips:

Keep trees well maintained and trimmed. Also notify neighbors if you see any overhanging branches on any of theirs.

Know your insurance. Take a look at your policy so you know what’s covered, what your limits and deductibles are, etc. This will prevent any surprises during the claims process.

Take pictures. Photographs can help you show the cause and extent of any storm damage that occurs.

Of course, if you’ve suffered through a major storm, don’t hesitate to call us at Marsilje & Vander Plow Insurance Agency for help with an insurance claim or with finding a professional property inspector.

 

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!

 

*This content was provided by Safeco Insurance Company

Categories: Uncategorized

Energy Efficiency

September 22, 2016 Leave a comment

Energy Efficiency

 Drafty windows. Leaky faucets. Dirty air filters.

All are common issues and they’re not only annoying — they also cost you money in decreased energy efficiency and higher utility bills.

Would you like to save $200 to $400 a year on your energy costs? That’s how much the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program estimates that homeowners can save by incorporating technologies to make their homes operate more efficiently.

Of course, helping to protect you and your family is our goal at Marsilje & Vander Plow, and keeping your home well-maintained usually means your home will be safer as well. Those are goals we all should share. Several of the tips below from the National Association of Home Builders will help you accomplish both.
Do a home-energy audit

Making your home more efficient can seem like an overwhelming task. But “auditing” your energy efficiency is something you can do yourself, and it’s relatively simple. This will show you where your home loses energy, how efficient your heating and cooling systems are, and ways you can decrease your electricity use. Just inspect the areas listed here and note the problems you find.

Where’s the air? Air commonly “leaks” from homes through gaps around baseboards, electrical outlets and windows or doors. Stopping these drafts can save up to 30 percent of your yearly energy costs. Be sure to check your home’s exterior as well, paying particular attention to areas where two different building materials meet. When you find leaks, seal them with caulk or weather stripping.
Don’t wait … insulate! Check to see if the amount of insulation in the ceiling and walls is sufficient. Your attic door should be insulated and close tightly. For walls, make a small hole in a closet or other inconspicuous place and probe into the wall with a screwdriver — the area should be completely filled with insulation.
Do a systems check. Efficient heating and cooling systems can save you frustration as well as money. Make sure ducts and pipes are insulated properly, and have your equipment checked and cleaned by a professional each year. Filters for forced-air furnaces should be replaced as soon as they are dirty, or every 30 to 60 days.
Let there be (efficient) light. Lighting can account for up to 20 percent of your home’s total electricity use, so consider compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs, which last longer and use far less energy than incandescent bulbs.

The only thing left to do after you complete your audit (and make any necessary changes)? Figuring out how to spend the money you’ll save each year!

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 Company

Categories: Uncategorized

Autumn Safety

September 15, 2016 Leave a comment

Autumn Safety

Once again it’s time to prepare for the cold winter months, getting the summer things put away, taking care of the yard, & may other things on your checklist. Don’t have a checklist for the fall? Here are some tips to help you maintain your home & yard for the winter to prevent possible claims.

  • Look up before pruning trees on your property. Note the location of power lines & where the branches/limbs will fall once you start cutting. One errant cut could cause major problem.
  • Take care of leaves & debris properly. Many cities offer curbside leaf & debris pick up for a week or two in the middle of the fall season. Others offer a drop off for leaves & debris (that will be turned into mulch compost), check your city’s website to see if either option is available to you.
  • If you live out in the country, you may have the option to burn leaves depending on your county’s/township’s/state’s laws or ordinances. Check with the proper authorities to see if it is legal to do so and about any costs involved (some may require the purchase of a permit). Use a burn barrel if possible, being sure to clear all dry grass/combustibles from around it. Start with small piles of leaves/debris and add it it slowly as it burns. Never leave it alone while burning & make sure the fire is completely out before leaving it. Keep water/rake/shovel handy in case the fire gets away from the barrel. NEVER burn on gusty/windy days.
  • Be careful when using ladders to clean your gutters or pruning trees. Wet boots/shoes can cause your feet to slip, try to dry them before climbing. Make sure the ladder is on a stable surface and the tools you are using are designed/recommended for use on a ladder.
  • Follow directions as far as storing your lawn mower for the winter months, use fuel additives as recommended & clean the deck/blades so it will be ready to use next spring.
  • With the change of Daylight Savings Time, be sure to change the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and clean out your dryer vent.Using a leaf blower & a towel to blow lint and debris out of the vent will help to prevent possible fires.

 

Here’s an article from the Farmer’s Almanac with more tips to keep you safe this autumn.

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

Rental Car Caveats

September 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Rental Car Caveats

 

With coming back from summer vacation and getting back into the routine of school, the one thing on everyone’s mind is – “When do we go on vacation again?”

Many people will be traveling for the coming holidays, some flying out to visit family & friends. In these cases, a rental car will be involved to transport them around while on holiday. Your Personal Auto Policy offers some coverage, but is it enough?

There is coverage that your Personal Auto Policy may not offer in regards to covering a rental car:

  • The Personal Auto Policy does not cover commercial vehicles such as U-Haul (or similar) trucks or 15-passenger vans. You will need to purchase the insurance from them.
  • The Personal Auto Policy does not cover vehicles outside the United States, it’s possessions/territories, or Canada. Renting a vehicle in another country, you need to purchase liability/medical/physical damage coverage from the rental car company.
  • The Personal Auto Policy does not settle total losses on vehicles based on Replacement Value (as some rental car agreements require), the loss is settled on an Actual Cash Value basis.
  • The Personal Auto Policy may not pay for Diminished Value, even if a rental car is repaired to pre-accident condition – Diminished Value means that there is a perceived value drop due to it having been involved in a claim.
  • The Personal Auto Policy may not pay for Loss of Use on a rental car. Loss of Use would be daily rental charges while the rental car is being repaired.

What can you do to protect yourself? Well, you can purchase insurance from the rental car company. They offer coverage for the vehicle itself as well as liability & medical coverage if you do not have a Personal Auto Policy. You many also have coverage for rental vehicles as a benefit with your credit card. This article from Lifehacker shares what coverage you may have and how it would work. Of course you need to check your credit card agreement to see what they offer.

As always, check with your hometown insurance agent to see what coverage is afforded for you and your family while renting a car.

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!

Categories: Uncategorized

All About the VIN (not Diesel)

September 1, 2016 Leave a comment

All About the VIN (not Diesel)

 

This week is all about the VIN in relation to your car/truck/SUV and what it means when it comes to insurance. The Vehicle Identification Number is not only a 17-character serial number, it also holds some vital information needed for insurance rating.

From 1954 to 1981, vehicle manufacturers created their own VIN identifiers that varied widely as far as length and alpha-numeric combinations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standardized the now-recognizable format for all automobiles in 1981. The VIN can be found in several places on a vehicle, most-notably in the lower corner of the driver’s side windshield. It can also be found in newer cars on stickers placed inside the door of the driver or passenger side, as well as on the engine, transmission, fenders, even truck pickup beds.

The VIN contains information if you can decode it. Here is what the different character positions reveal about your vehicle:

First position character = denotes where vehicle was manufactured (1,4,5 are US designations, 2 is Canada, 3 is Mexico, J is Japan, W is Germany)

Second & third position characters = denotes the vehicle manufacturer (so a 1FM would indicate that it is a Ford built in the United States)

Fourth through eighth position characters = denotes vehicle brand, engine size, & type

Ninth position character = denotes vehicle security code (also known as a “check digit”)

Tenth position character = denotes vehicle year

Eleventh position character = denotes which plant manufactured vehicle

Twelfth through seventeenth position characters = denotes the serial number of the vehicle

The VIN is important to insurance carriers not only to identify the vehicle they are insuring, but also helps in assigning an Insurance Rating Symbol when it comes to calculating insurance premiums.

The Insurance Services Office is an international advisory & rating organization that helps the insurance industry with actuarial & statistical data in determining the insuring of property/casualty risks. Using information from this service based on claims/damage/other collected data, insurance carriers have developed rating symbols to help them properly rate vehicles.

The higher the Insurance Rating Symbol assigned to a vehicle, the higher the payout the insurance company will most likely make in case of a claim. Factors such as theft susceptibility, cost of replacement parts, safety features & ratings,  desirability, and even the cost new of the vehicle.

The IRS does not factor in such other ratings as age of driver, location of vehicle, miles to work, coverage purchased so the premium for the same vehicle would be different for an 18 year old versus a 45 year old.

When shopping for a vehicle, be sure to contact your hometown insurance agent to see what the insurance premiums will be before signing on the dotted line. Better to be informed before a purchase than get “sticker shock” on your next insurance bill!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized