5 Life Insurance Myths Busted

Approximately 41% of American adults do not have life insurance. Of those who do, 50% admit that their coverage is not adequate. Yet, 93% of Americans understand that they should not live without life insurance. 

Several factors have led to this frightening situation, and one of them has to do with the complexity of life insurance. There are a lot of myths floating around in the industry and they include:

Girl in forest“If I’m Single and Without Children, I Don’t Need Coverage”

The reasoning here is that since life insurance benefits are usually paid after death, those who do not have dependents will not need the money. The reality is that the money is also usually used to cover other financial obligations of the deceased. It can be used to cover debts (think student or auto loans) that may otherwise be passed on to family or loan co-signers. It can also be used to cover your funeral expenses, protecting family and friends from this expensive obligation.

“My Employer Takes Care of My Life Insurance”

Sure, life insurance is one of the benefits offered by many employers. The fallacy here is believing that this coverage is enough, or even permanent, because it is not. This form of insurance is only valid as long as you are still working with the company. If you get laid off, take a different job, or even have to leave because of illness, you could be left without coverage when you need it most. Besides, it usually amounts to a modest amount of money, say equal to your annual salary. You need a permanent form of life insurance with enough coverage to meet all your financial obligations and take care of your family.

“Life Insurance Is Way Too Expensive”

In this economy, it’s understandable that many people think this way. The cost of life insurance, however, has decreased considerably in the past few years. This is mainly due to the increased average life expectancies. If you are healthy and don’t smoke, you stand a good chance of getting fantastic coverage at very low rates. Rates of $250,000 at $15 (or less) for a 30-year-old male or $500,000 at $31 (or less) for a 40-year-old nonsmoker are very possible.Mother and Child

“If I Have Health Problems, I Can’t Get Life Insurance Coverage”

Some people believe this to the point of not trying to get life insurance when they are sick. The truth is that there are many life insurance companies that sell policies to people suffering from common illnesses. Some firms even specialize in these cases. It’s true that you will probably pay higher premiums than people with perfect health, but that’s a big difference from being completely disqualified.

“I Only Need Life Insurance If I’m the Breadwinner”

If you think the breadwinner is the only person who has responsibilities in the house, think again. There are many duties within the home that would quickly rack up the bills if a homemaker wasn’t available. Think about a stay-at-home parent who cleans the house, does the laundry and takes care of the children. If that parent passed away, life insurance would make the different in filling that gap, providing money for childcare, housekeeping, or the many other gaps created by a loved one’s death.

Now you know the truth from the myths! If you have more questions about life insurance, feel free to call our office. We have a Life Insurance Specialist on staff to answer all of your remaining questions and offer a free assessment of your life insurance needs. Call 616-897-1515.

Don’t Let Your Dog Cheat You Out of Your Deposit

Man's best friend.We all love our furry friends. And while we wouldn’t dream of leaving them behind when we move, our pets can make getting a new apartment or rental much more complicated. Paying extra fees and pet rent can add up quickly. And let’s face it, there are reasons for those fees. Between hair, “accidents”, curiosity, and cooped up energy, our dogs can get into some sticky situations – and cause some major damage. How can you avoid losing your deposit without sacrificing your furry family?

Here are some easy ways to keep your fur baby from ruining your chances at getting your deposit back:

  • Protect Surfaces from Chewing
    In general, dogs avoid chewing on things that smell of citrus. If your dog is a chewer, you can try spraying surfaces with citrus scented cleaning spray or air freshener. If you need a stronger deterrent, most pet supply stores carry products designed to keep pets from chewing up your things. 
  • Regularly Remove Pet Hair from Your Carpets

    You love you dog’s silky coat! It’s warm, and adorable, and soft, and… a huge pain to remove from the carpet. Avoid paying special cleaning fees by regularly removing the hair yourself. A good way to remove pet hair from the carpet is a squeegee. You can use the same type of squeegee you use in the shower to remove pet hair effectively. Try to squeegee your carpets every other week, or more often if you have multiple pets. 
  •  Seal up Treats and Food

    The compulsion to get into your trash, or their dog food stash is a hard one to combat. The best way to fight this problem is to seal up the temptations in air tight containers. You can buy large dog food storage containers for pretty cheap. Transfer dog food from bags into the sealed containers. Removing that tempting dog food smell helps your dog resist their evil urges.
     

    You can also purchase trashcans that open from a foot pedal. Most versions of these trashcans include a lock, so even if you’ve got a smart pup they won’t be able to open the trashcan when you’re not home. Of course, storing trashcans and dog food in rooms with locked doors doubles up your protection. 

Prevent dog boredom

  • Prevent Boredom

    What’s the number one reason your dog destroys things? He’s bored. Try to prevent boredom by leaving toys that can keep Fido busy for hours. You can purchase toys that are indestructible and have space for snacks in them. Add peanut butter (make sure your brand is xylitol free) and freeze the toy. Your dog will spend hours trying to eat the peanut butter out of the toy. And a busy dog is a well behaved dog.

Having a pet and apartment chaos don’t have to go hand in hand. But even when man’s best friend inevitably cause a mess or get into some trouble, we still know we wouldn’t trade them for the world!

What is your favorite tip for keeping your pet in line while you’re away? Share in the comments!

 

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A Few Tips for the College-Bound

Back to School TipsCollege is expensive enough without the added cost of unexpected accidents or theft, and it’s stressful enough without the extra worry of whether they are covered by your insurance policy. If you have a student heading away to school, below are a few tips to help you get the most out of your coverage.

Homeowners

  • Personal Property:  Most homeowners policies will cover personal property for up to 10% of your total policy while your child is residing at school (a $100,000 policy equals $10,000 in coverage). Not all types of damage are covered, so read your policy carefully or call our office with questions. Some items such as jewelry or expensive electronics require special coverage. Renters insurance is strongly recommended to make sure your child and their belongings are fully protected. 
  • Liability Coverage:  General damage to a dorm room or apartment is not usually covered.
  • Documentation:  Creating an inventory of the items your child is taking to school is a good idea. Use photographs and keep receipts. You can also read our guide to creating a home inventory

Auto

  • Car Staying Home:  If you child isn’t bringing a vehicle to school but they will still drive your car while at home on school breaks, you should keep your child listed on your auto policy.
  • Car at School:  Make sure to notify us if your child will be taking a car away to school. In most cases, if the car is registered to you and listed on your policy, it will be covered.
  • Discounts:  Many insurance carriers reward good grades! A full-time student meeting certain academic requirements can qualify for a good student discount. Distant student discounts may also be available. Discounts may also be available for drivers under 21 who have completed driver’s education courses.

Before your child leaves for school, be sure to call Alliance at (616) 897-1515 or e-mail us with questions. We can walk you through the steps to ensure you have the right coverage to protect you and your child at school. We’re always here to help!

How to Prepare Your Car for Fall

Autumn DrivingNow that summer is winding down and the crisp months of Michigan autumn are fast approaching, it’s a good time to do a seasonal check-up on your vehicle. Fall brings inclement weather and is quickly followed by the hazardous months of winter, so we’ve put together these simple DIY tricks to help you get ready for driving in the last part of the year.

1. Take a look at your fluid levels.

Periodically checking your vehicle’s fluid levels helps keep your car operating in top condition. Check and change windshield-washer fluids, antifreeze, and brake-fluids. Also take this opportunity to discover any leaks; if fluid levels  are changing at a rapid pace, this could indicate leakage or larger automotive issues.

2. Check your spare.

It’s a good idea to check the tire pressure and quality of your spare tire each season to ensure that it will remain usable in case of emergency. It is especially important to look at spare tire quality if your spare is suspended underneath your vehicle.

3. Replace your wipers.

Since you typically use your wiper blades more in the fall and winter, it’s important to replace them each fall to make sure that your blades are functioning properly when you need them most. And don’t forget about your rear window wipers, if you have them! With leaves blustering (and eventually snow flying), you  don’t want to get stuck with a huge rear 
blind spot

4. Look at your lights and battery.

Regular car maintenance calls for a routine inspection of the electrical components of your vehicle. However, now is a great time to double-check your battery for corrosion or loose wires and to make sure that all of the car’s lights are working. By tackling any minor issues you find now, such as bulb replacement or corrosion cleanup, you can not only keep your car ready for the fall and winter, but can prevent major automotive issues in the future.

5. Replace filters.

Engine air filters should be replaced at least twice a year, so right now is a great time to get a new filter. Fresh filters improve fuel economy, emissions, and overall performance.

6. Review your auto insurance coverage.

With school back in session, the approaching fall season yields more traffic, time on the road, and pedestrians – not to mention it’s construction season here in Michigan. You may find yourself driving your car more frequently than you did during the summer. Now is a good time to review your current coverage before you get back out on the road. You may want to consider additional coverage to protect you from the additional hazards you may face in the coming months.

How do you prepare for the impending Michigan weather? Share your own tips below.
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Why a Home Inventory is Important

How to Create a Home Inventory
Let’s try a little exercise: List everything you own. From memory (don’t peek!). 

Didn’t think so.


 

The fact is, most people own more things than they realize. It’s easy to remember the cars, the computer, the TV. But what about that holiday china in the garage?  Or every pair of shoes?

For insurance purposes, all of this “stuff” is considered personal property, whether big or small. And if your home is destroyed by fire or some other disaster, having a list of your possessions takes a lot of the stress out of filing a claim — and helps you put your life back together more quickly and easily.

Why should I complete a home inventory? What’s the best way?

Every home insurance policy has a “contents” limit listed. This is how much coverage you have for your personal property. Comparing the value of your belongings to this limit helps you make sure you have enough insurance to replace them if they are lost, stolen or destroyed as a result of a covered loss. In the past, inventories were usually just long lists of items. But these days, the easiest way to take an inventory is to simply whip out your cell phone or video camera and take a visual tour or your home and belongings. Just walk through your house, recording and describing items as you film them. Or, you can use a regular camera and create a home inventory checklist.

Here are a few tips for completing and storing your inventory: 

  • Add brand names and descriptions where you can, especially on large-ticket items. Serial numbers are helpful to note as well. 
  • Keep any receipts you have with the list to make the claims process easier. You could also keep digital copies by snapping a quick photo of receipts. 
  • Store your video or photo inventory offsite so you won’t lose it if your house is damaged. If you’re creating a digital inventory instead of physical copy, consider storing it on a cloud service so it’s not attached to any particular device that could be damaged. 
  • Update your personal property records when you purchase new furnishings and valuables. Your home inventory may be a constantly changing document, depending on how often you purchase new items and replace old ones. Make sure it never gets too out of date and is not missing any recent large purchases.

Though the task may seem daunting, it’s important to try. Even an incomplete inventory is better than nothing at all. And with technology, the process isn’t nearly as time consuming as it used to be!

How much insurance do I need?

That’s what your independent agent is here for! We can assist you in analyzing your insurance needs and help you decide how to most effectively protect your personal property. 

You should consider full-value coverage, which will pay for the replacement value of your personal belongings. A standard policy typically covers personal property only up to its actual cash value, determined by taking the replacement cost and deducting depreciation, which can be substantial. (For example, a 5-year-old TV is usually worth much less than what it would cost to purchase a new one.)

Finally, remember your homeowners policy covers valuable items such as jewelry, furs, art and antiques, only up to set dollar amounts. If the cost of replacing them exceeds these limits, you may want to purchase scheduled personal property coverage.

You can also take advantage of the home inventory feature on our mobile app

We hope you’ll never need the home inventory, but preparing for the worst can prevent a lot of hassle later! Call us at (616) 897-1515 if you would like help evaluating your coverage needs, or have questions about what your policy covers. We’re here for you!

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Staying Safe During Michigan Tornado Season

Michigan Tornado SeasonTornadoes are a way of life for families living in tornado alley, but here in Michigan, it’s easy to feel unprepared for these natural disasters since we only experience a few tornadoes per year. But remember, although they are more common in the Great Plains, a tornado can occur almost anywhere. To protect your home and family from tornadoes, educate yourself on the warning signs and when to take cover.

Learn the Warning Signs
Tornadoes strike with very little warning. Over the years, with more advanced science and technology, meteorologists are better able to predict signs that a twister is on its way. Even having just a few minutes warning can provide an opportunity to seek shelter if you’re in harm’s way. If you live in an area with a history of tornadic activity, there may be warning sirens or a digital messaging system in your community to alert residents to find proper shelter immediately.

 Other signs of tornadoes are:

  • Dark greenish skies
  • Dark, rotating, low-altitude cloud
  • Loud roar, like a train 
  • Large hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift.
  • Large clouds rushing by quickly overhead or rushing together to form a funnel

Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning
When the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch it means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. When under a watch, be alert to changes in the weather, check to be sure all family nearby is safe, and keep the TV and Radio on so you’re able to listen to reports and stay on top of changing storm information.

A tornado watch can give you valuable time to prep your home and surrounding property for a disaster. Take this time to move cars into the garage if possible; you’ll also need to keep car and house keys with you at all times. You could also move lawn furniture and equipment into a garage or shed to minimize flying debris. If you’re not able to utilize a shed or garage you could temporarily move items into the larger rooms of your home. If a tornado siren sounds, stay inside your home and take cover in an interior room away from windows. If you have a storm shelter, move your family into the storm shelter when sirens sound.

A tornado warning means a tornado has already been spotted in your area. This means danger could be imminent and you may only have seconds to take cover. Immediately move to an interior room or storm shelter with your radio. Do not leave the space you’ve taken cover in until an all clear has been issued

Although tornadoes may be less common in Michigan, stay alert during these stormy summer months and make sure you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you!

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Top 10 Hottest Collector Cars of the Summer

Top 10 Hottest Collector Cars of the Summer

As the summer driving season begins, Hagerty® announces the ten collector vehicles with the highest levels of demand and momentum. This list includes vehicles with positive value growth and momentum in private sales transactions, quote activity and auction results. “The major trend continues to be the clear emergence of ‘Modern Classics’ from the 1980s and newer with new interest from younger buyers,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. “Our data allows us to measure the popularity of collector vehicles not just by value trends but by leading indicators like quote activity, private sales and other factors.” 


1987 Mercedes 560SL1. 1986–1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL
(1987 560SLs start at $46,300)

Many buyers remember the 560SL as an aspirational car that signaled early career success for their original owners, and the average sale price in the private market is up 22% over the last 12 months.



1987 Jeep CJ72. 1973–1986 Jeep CJ-7
(1983 Jeep CJ-7 Laredos start at $12,900)


Jeep and off-roading have long been an American fascination and the CJ-7 remains very popular in 4×4 clubs. The special edition packages such as the “Limited” and “Jamboree Edition” are seeing the most interest, but any flavor can deliver open-air summer fun. Quoting activity has been particularly strong, with an increase of 120% over the past 12 months, indicating rising demand among enthusiasts.



1977 Chevy C-10 Silverado Fleetside3. 1973–1987 Chevrolet C/K Series Pickup
(1973 C10s start at $12,200)

Pickups have been one of the fastest growing segments for the past five years. This is the first time this generation of Chevrolet pickup has outpaced the highly-sought-after 1967–1972 models. Ratings for this era of are being driven via the private sector, with a 9.5% increase in the number offered privately, an 11% rise in average sale price, and more than 38% of the cars selling privately doing so for amounts above their insured values.



1990 BMW M34. 1986–1992 BMW M3
(1990 M3s start at $76,100)

To many, the E30 M3 is the purest sports car from the 1980s. If this is a car you’ve always wanted you probably shouldn’t wait much longer as values are only going one direction. Up. Values published in Hagerty Price Guide have increased 86% over the last 8 months.



1988 Porsche 944 Coupe5. 1982–1991 Porsche 944
(1988 Porsche 944s start at $15,600)


Whether younger buyers are priced out of the 911 market or just looking for something different than the norm, the 944 has recently gained a renewed following. Expect to see many nice low-mile examples come to market in the near future, with pristine Turbos selling for surprising amounts. Hagerty Price Guide values have increased 8% in value over the last 8 months.



2000 Plymouth Prowler6. 1997–2002 Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler
(2000 Plymouth Prowlers start at $32,000)


Once described as a car better to be photographed next to, there is no denying the standout looks of one of the first modern retro cars. Prowlers have been one of the hottest cars at auction over the last 12 months, with a 9% increase in the number offered, a 6% increase in average sale price, and a strong sell-through rate of 72% over the last 12 months.



1966 Ford Bronco Convertible7. 1966–1977 Ford Bronco
(1966 Ford Broncos start at $24,800)


Today’s SUV-dominated car culture continues to love the simple utilitarian look of the first generation Bronco. Coupled with excellent reliability and parts availability, the Bronco makes for an excellent first-time collector vehicle. Activity in the private market has been particularly strong for these stylish SUVs.



1997 Ferrari 355 Spider 8. 1994–1999 Ferrari F355
(1997 F355 Spiders start at $68,900)

A true performance car with a fantastic engine sound and great looks. F355 price gains have lagged other Ferrari models over the past five years, which has suddenly made them relative bargains. Hagerty Price Guide values have increased 39% over the last 12 months. The cost of ownership on these cars can be high, though. So make sure to scrutinize service records.



1970 Dodge Challenger9. 1970–1974 Dodge Challenger
(1970 Challengers start at $36,200)


Early ’70s Mopar muscle cars have had the biggest swings in values going back to 2006. After being impacted by the recession they have recovered nicely, and Dodge fans are back to searching out as many “1 of 1” variations as they can find. Challengers have been performing very well at recent auctions, with cars offered up 17% and average sale price up 41% over the last 12 months.



1974 BMW 2002 Tii10. 1968–1976 BMW 2002
(1974 2002 tii’s start at $26,800)


This iconic BMW remains very popular, especially on both coasts. Similar to the other German cars mentioned in this list, Hagerty Price Guide values have been especially strong for 2002s, with an 18% gain over the last 8 months.

Alliances Sponsors 2016 Lowell Little League Team

ALLIANCE SPONSORS 2016 LOWELL LITTLE LEAGUE TEAM

Alliance Insurance is proud to support Lowell Little League through our sponsorship of the 2016 season for the Boys Early Developmental (EDL) Division.

Learn more about Lowell Little League and how to get involved by visiting lllmi.com

 


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