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Michigan Insurance Blog

Pump Blues: How to Save Money on Gas

Gas PumpGas prices seem to be in a state of constant flux, but as we’re all painfully aware, the total seems to be higher with every fill. You may be left scratching your head at the price to fill up your tank, wondering how to budget for this necessary evil. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to save money on gasoline.

  • Avoid idling. Time spent idling is still time spent using fuel. Stop-and-go driving can quickly eat away at your gas without getting you very far. When driving, find as many safe ways as possible to turn off your car (at a stoplight, in the drive-through lane, etc.)
  • Avoid rush hour traffic. This goes along with idling. The high amount of vehicles inching along on the highway will cause you to stop-and-start. Not only will this put you in a bad mood, it’s bad for your car and your gas expenses! If you can leave a little earlier from home or a little later from work to beat the rush, it can make a huge difference on your gas bill. It may also be worth it to experiment with alternative routes. Even if a back road takes you a bit farther out of your way, you may still get to your destination faster when you skip the daily traffic jam. 
  • Learn how to coast. Slamming on your breaks at the last possible minute uses fuel, but coasting does not actually engage the gas in your car. So, when you’re approaching a stop light or stop sign, plan accordingly: coast as much as possible to slow down before you apply the brakes. You can let your car coast for a short while before accelerating to saves gas, as well.
  • Don’t drive aggressively. The more you ride that bumper ahead of you, the more likely you’ll have to slam on your breaks or abruptly stop (or worse, rear end someone!). Harsh starts and stops eat up substantially more fuel than smooth acceleration. So give yourself some extra time, and give the driver in front of you some extra space, for the sake of your wallet and your safety.
  • Keep an eye on your fuel levels. Don’t wait until you’re running on fumes to fill up. As a good rule of thumb, once your gas tank is only one-quarter of the way full, stop and get some gas. Or, if you don’t mind stopping more often for gas, try to fill up whenever prices are low (or fit within your budget). Remember: there’s never a bad time to have a full tank of gas. Better safe than sorry!

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Consumer Fireworks Safety Guidelines

Firework SafetyAs we approach Independence Day, the country is gearing up for one of its biggest summer celebrations. While many of us will be content with attending community displays, many people prefer the excitement of holding their own personal fireworks display. These can range from simple sparklers to huge displays from more serious enthusiasts. But whether big or small, putting on your own show always entails an element of danger. It’s critical to understand the risks, follow all safety guidelines and have safety procedures in place before lighting the first match. This will ensure that your family and friends will enjoy a safe and exciting celebration.

Another thing to note before organizing a fireworks event is that you should ensure that you have the proper official approval in place and any required documentation or permits. Michigan has laws governing the purchase and use of fireworks, including the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, so be sure to do your homework first and stay in compliance with state and local laws. Also, before holding your fireworks display, check with your local fire department for any fire regulations that you will need to follow.

Purchasing Fireworks

Purchase fireworks from an authorized dealer and check that the fireworks you purchase are allowed to be sold in your area. There are three categories of firework explosives. Class A are common fireworks or consumer fireworks. Class B and C are special fireworks meant for fireworks display professionals only.

There are many precautions that you need to abide by for the safety of everyone. Before holding your fireworks display, ensure you have proper insurance coverage. If there are injuries and you are under-insured, the results could be devastating. Here are some guidelines:

  • Fireworks should be locked up and stored in a cool dry place, away from children.
  • Fireworks and alcohol do not mix. Don’t drink while setting them off.
  • Read and follow the directions on the fireworks carefully.
  • The display site should be clear and at least 100 feet by 100 feet. Verify that there are no trees, buildings or hydro lines on the site.Safety on 4th of July
  • Never hold fireworks in your hands when lighting them. 
  • Do not fire under windy conditions.
  • Always have water nearby, either in pails or a hose connected to a water supply.
  • A metal bucket filled with sand makes a good platform for lighting fireworks.
  • Fireworks should be buried half their length in the bucket of sand unless the directions say otherwise. 
  • Angle the fireworks 10 degrees away from the audience and make sure the people are upwind from the display.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing, including scarves or anything that may dangle into the fireworks.
  • Children need to be monitored and supervised at all times during the fireworks display.
  • Light one firework at a time and never experiment.
  • When finished, soak them in water before disposing in a trash can.
  • If any of the fireworks do not light, don’t try to fix them. Leave them for at least 30 minutes before soaking in a bucket of water.
  • Wear eye protection when lighting the fireworks.
  • In the unlikely event that someone gets burned, soak them with cold water and seek medical attention.

Remember, having an exciting 4th of July doesn’t have to mean sacrificing safety! A safe celebration is also a fun one.

If you want to be sure you’re covered before you host a party with fireworks, please give us a call at 616-897-1515. And for more tips like these, subscribe to our newsletter!

Alliance Sponsors the 10th Annual Jared Sweet Golf Outing

10th Annual Jared Sweet Golf Outing


On June 25th, 2016, Alliance was proud to sponsor the 10th Annual Jared Sweet Golf Outing. This event raised $16,000 to benefit Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and raise awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

This golf outing is an annual event, coordinated by the Sweet Family. Jared Sweet, pictured left, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 2006. To learn more about Jared’s story and for updates on his journey, follow Jared’s Team on Facebook

To learn more about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or to get involved with this cause, please visit

Alliance Cares is our initiative for community involvement and charity partnerships. Learn more about how our agency gives back and stays involved in our community!


Fourth of July Safety Tips

4th of JulyHappy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is a time for enjoying freedom, family, and (of course) fireworks! Your weekend might include grilling, swimming, boating, and a light show at the end of the day. But while all of the activities are summer favorites, each one has its unique safety hazards, especially when combined with drinking and blowing things up!

But keeping safety in mind doesn’t have to equal a damper on your celebration. You can keep your home and your family safe this Fourth of July by considering a few tips for smart celebration.

  • Keep a bucket of water nearby. Whether you’re setting off fireworks or grilling burgers, sparks can land on nearby foliage and flammable items and quickly start a fire. Make sure you can easily douse any unwanted flames and dud fireworks. For even better protection, keep hose nearby as well.
  • Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks and never trying to fix or relight a dud. According to the Red Cross, fireworks are behind almost 9,000 emergency room visits each year. Just a few simple precautions can keep you from becoming part of this statistic!
  • Keep fireworks and grills away from dry grass and overhanging foliage. Trim any bushes around your grilling area and create a safe, non-flammable area for firework lighting.
  • Read the instructions that came with your grill for the safest grilling experience, Be aware of flammable objects, such as house eaves and railings, and keep the grill at a safe distance. Lastly do not add starter fluid after coals are ignited; nobody likes to end the holiday weekend without eyebrows!Firework Safety
  • If you plan to celebrate all or part of your Fourth of July holiday on a boat, make sure everyone on board wears a life jacket. The US Coast Guard noted in its report, 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics, that at least 79 percent of the drownings in 2011 were experienced by individuals not wearing a life jacket.
  • If camping is part of your weekend plans, keep your campfire at least 15 feet from tents, trees and shrubs, and make sure there are no low-hanging branches over the fire.
  • When putting out a campfire, douse all embers with water and continue pouring until doing so no longer causes a hissing noise. Then, use a shovel to move through the ashes and ensure that everything is wet and cold.
  • If your festivities include a swimming pool or a day at the lake, make sure children are always supervised by a sober adult with both swimming and CPR skills.
  • Having a fun 4th doesn’t have to mean sacrificing safety. For more tips on having a safe holiday or to understand how your insurance policies can be affected by your Fourth of July activities, give us a call.

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Prepare for Summer Storms

Preparing for Summer Storms
Summer has barely begun, and we’re already experiencing the hot, humid days that go along Michigan summers. These days often bring intense rain and thunderstorms with them. And even if they don’t happen often in your area, it only takes one big one to sweep through do some damage to your home and property. Before storm season gets into full swing, take some steps to get your home ready.

1. Check out the health of your trees. One of the biggest causes of storm damage is falling limbs. Take a look at the tops of your trees. Are they well-covered in leaves, or do some branches look bare? Then look at the roots. Is the land uneven, causing some roots to come out of the ground? These could be signs of unhealthy trees that may be more likely to fall in a storm. If you’re unsure, it may be worth calling an arborist to evaluate the health of your trees.

2. Clean the gutters. Gutters filled up with leaves, twigs and pine cones will not drain well, causing water to end up where you don’t want it, along your foundation and in your basement. Water can also back up onto your roof causing damage to sub-roofing material.

3. Check your sump pump. If your house tends to get water in the basement, make sure your sump pump is working well, and that you have some sort of back-up power source in case of an outage.

4. Have an emergency storm kit prepared. Flashlights, batteries, water, food, first aid supplies and extra medicine are essentials to have on hand.

Storms are unpredictable, and while you can do your best to be prepared, there may be times when your home sustains damage from lightning, rain, or high winds. If you ever experience a claim or have questions about your policy, call one of our licensed agents at 616-897-1515 to make sure you’re protected!

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5 Helpful Boating Apps

Docked BoatsToday’s age of information gives us access to an endless amount of knowledge, all available at our fingertips. And boaters are no exception! The Apple and Android app stores contain a wide array of boating, fishing and other marine apps to help you gauge the weather, see who else is out on the water and much more. Here are five of the best boating apps to help you as you cruise the lakes this summer.

  1. MarineCast: Is today a safe day for a boating adventure? The MarineCast app, available for $3.99, provides National Weather Service marine forecasts. Among one of the most useful features is the inclusion of wind forecast maps, which show direction and velocity in real time.
  2. Boat Ramps: If you own a towable boat, you know that finding a boat ramp isn’t always simple. The Boat Ramps app, available for free, uses your current location to find the nearest ramps. It will display an interactive map that shows ramp names, addresses, distance from your current location and routing directions.
  3. Marine Traffic Ships and Wind: Sick of using radar to “see” the other vessels that share the waters? The Marine Traffic Ships and Wind app, available for $3.99, uses online Automatic Information System (AIS) data to provide you with a map that details AIS-equipped vessels near your current location. This information includes the vessels’ size, speed, course and more helpful tidbits.
  4. NOAA Buoy and Tide Data: Looking for the perfect location for fishing? The NOAA Buoy and Tide Data app, available for $1.99, uses your current location to find the nearest data buoys, which provide tidal current and temperature information so you can find the ideal fishing spot.
  5. SST Online: Is fishing a lifestyle for you? The SST Online app, available for 99 cents plus a $149 seasonal subscription, provides accurate sea surface temperature charts, which aid in finding temperature hot spots. The subscription fee gives you access to real time sea surface charts in relation to your current location, so you always know when you’re in the right fishing zone.

Comment and let us know which are your favorite boating apps! And to keep up to date with more articles like this, join our newsletter today!

How to Protect Your Car in the Summer Heat

Parking in the SunIt’s the first day of summer, and the weather is already heating up fast! And while most Michiganders know tips for protecting their cars from the snow, many forget that extreme heat can take a toll on your car as well. Delicate interior components are particularly susceptible to cracking or warping if overexposed. While some people have the luxury of covered parking, the majority of us are forced to park under the sun’s sweltering rays. Follow these tips for keeping your car in the best shape possible during the summer heat.

  • Find shade: If possible, park in a shady spot. Whether it’s a garage, under a tree, or even just a shadow cast down from a building, any little bit helps. If you must park in direct sunlight for a long period of time, consider using a windshield shade to block UV rays from damaging your dashboard or a car cover for more complete protection, including blocking the oxidation of your paint job.
  • Leather and vinyl care: Your seats and other internal components can crack or dry out under the hot sun. Luckily, there’s an array of commercial products available to block these nasty effects. Leather conditioners, protectant wipes and even wax/polish for your car’s exterior can all prevent heat damage.
Car Dashboard
  • Tint the windows: Tinting your car’s windows helps reduce the interior temperature of the vehicle and prevents damage caused by UV rays. Michigan does have laws restricting tinted windows; if you’re unsure whether you’re in compliance, be sure to check out the Michigan State Police guidelines to be certain your windows follow state law. If tinting isn’t an option, it can be helpful to at least leave your windows cracked open a bit to vent out some of the heat while you’re away.
  • Check the coolant: Regularly check the radiator for proper pressure and coolant levels and adjust as necessary. It’s also a good idea to inspect the hoses for cracks or bulges, which may need to be repaired.
  • Battery life: Extreme heat can cause fluid evaporation and reduce the life of your battery. Test its charge regularly, keep the top of the battery clean and, if you have the type of battery that needs liquid, top it off with distilled water when necessary.
  • Keep it cool: The air conditioning system is forced to work on overdrive during summer. It’s a good idea to have it inspected to make sure everything is working as it should. Additionally, check the air filter and replace it if it’s dirty.
  • Plan your errands: To keep your car out of the hot sun as much as possible, plan your errands during the morning or evening, when it’s cooler outside.
  • A warning: Remember, the sun’s rays pass through car windows and rapidly heat the interior. Never leave a child or pet unattended in a parked car! Doing so can result in heat stroke, dehydration or even death.

Have you found an effective method to keep your car cooler in the harsh summer sun? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below! And for more helpful articles, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter!

5 Tips for Safe Family Boating

Boating on LakeIt’s Michigan Boating week! And that means families everywhere in the Great Lakes State are starting to hit the water as the weather heats up. While being out on the water together is a favorite summer pastime for Michigan families, it’s important to remember that when you mix kids and boats, safety becomes even more important. So while you’re spending some time on the waves, follow these tips to keep your boating experience safe and problem free:

1. Life jackets on everybody

Children usually protest less about wearing their life jackets if they see the adults wearing them as well. And if older boaters have concerns about comfort, people over the age of 16 have the option of choosing the new Coast Guard-approved auto-inflating vests. These are more comfortable because they sit close to the body, and they only inflate if you pull the ripcord. And they may be an easier sell for more fashion conscious teenagers.

2. Bring a child-comfort kit

Your boat should already carry a first-aid kit, but there are some extra items you’ll want to bring along for your children’s safety and comfort. Sunscreen and sunhats are important, but you may also want to bring an over-the-counter seasickness remedy or chewable antihistamines. Bringing a set of dry clothing and some familiar music or comforting toys may be helpful for younger children if nap time beckons. Younger children can get worn out boating all day; avoid a meltdown at sea and be prepared with items that help comfort your child. Helping an overly-tired child have a nap may be a simple way to avoid accidents.

3. Check the weather forecast

If you’re planning to be out in open water, especially large lakes, weather is a serious factor that has to be taken into account. Besides simply ruining a beautiful excursion, bad weather can pose many safety risks. Wind is the most common danger, but electrical storms can pose serious risks to smaller boats that aren’t constructed with a lightning protection system in place. Too much sun can present a safety problem as well, so it’s crucial that you ensure that all passengers have access to shade and that there is plenty of fresh drinking water on board.

4. Skip the alcohol

Boats are vehicles, and over one-third of boating accidents result from a driver who is under the influence of alcohol. Drinking may even create greater risks for boat operators than it does for automobile drivers since the stresses of sun, vibration, engine noise, motion and spray intensify the effects of alcohol. Furthermore, most recreational boaters are relatively inexperienced, since they haven’t spent many hours operating the boat and thus have fewer driving reflexes. Every state has criminal statutes forbidding boating while under the influence (BUI), and if you do get into an accident, you may be subject to stiff fines or criminal charges. You wouldn’t drink and drive, so why would you drink and boat?

5. Fuel and exhaust safety

Before you start out, double-check your fuel gauge to make sure you have plenty of gasoline; nothing ruins a day on the lake like having to call for a tow! Also, if your boat has indoor areas, it’s important to make sure that all exhaust is properly vented. Boat engines produce carbon monoxide, and small enclosed cabins are not safe places for operating propane heaters or camp stoves.

Practicing responsible boating is the best way to keep your loved ones safe on the water, as well as avoiding boat damage and liability. Even with the best of intentions, however, we know accidents may happen. Call us today at 616-897-1515 for more information about your boating coverage or with questions about insuring yourself and your boat today!

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Alliance Sponsors 2016 Season of Boys Lacrosse


Alliance Insurance is proud to be a Gold Sponsor for the 2016 season of the Lowell High School Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team, the Red Arrows.

Learn more about Red Arrow athletics by visiting

Alliance Cares is our initiative for community involvement and charity partnerships. Learn more about how our agency gives back and stays involved in our community!

Alliance Donates to Kids’ Food Basket – Check Presentation

Kids Food Basket Check Presentation


On June 8th, 2016, Alliance Financial & Insurance Agency was proud to present a check to Kids’ Food Basket for $470 to benefit elementary children in food-insecure households in West Michigan. This was the inaugural donation of what will be bi-annual check presentations.

Kids’ Food Basket serves approximately 7,500 meals per day to children (ages 5-12) in need in West Michigan. Today’s donation is equivalent to 470 Sack Suppers, or 470 children  fed for a day.

Alliance is proud to support this organization through monetary donations as well as volunteer hours. Alliance employees have been excited to get involved by donating their time with monthly volunteer shifts at Kids’ Food Basket in Grand Rapids.

As of today, Alliance has donated $930 to local charities through its
Quotes for a Cause® program. 

Quotes for a Cause® is Alliance Financial & Insurance Agency’s charity partnership program. Through this program, Alliance donates $10 to its charity partners for each new customer’s online quote. Click here for more information on this program and how to get involved.

Kids' Food Basket
About Kids’ Food Basket
Kids’ Food Basket is a nonprofit organization attacking childhood hunger to help young people learn and live well. They began over ten years ago by serving 125 kids each school day through their Sack Supper program and now serve nearly 7,000 kids each weekday in West Michigan. Sack Suppers are well-rounded nutritious evening meals critical to the development of kids’ brains and bodies. Learn more

Alliance Cares is our initiative for community involvement and charity partnerships. Learn more about how our agency gives back and stays involved in our community!

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