Do Vampires Need Insurance

Dogs as Ghosts Many people walk around under the illusion that they don’t need insurance. Unfortunately, this illusion is a dangerous mirage that can create a perilous financial future for those who buy into it. In order to show you just how necessary insurance is for every individual, let’s talk about vampires.

Why Vampires?

Okay, so vampires don’t seem very relevant, but consider this: according to modern mythology, not only do vampires sparkle in the sun but they are also immortal, may be able to read minds, can have super strength and speed, and are generally less vulnerable than humans—as long as the sun isn’t out. So if there’s anyone who doesn’t need insurance, surely a vampire would fit the bill, right? Wrong.

Vampire Insurance

  1. Vampires need life insurance. Why in the world would the immortal need a life insurance policy, you ask? Well, even the eternally undead are not impervious to fire, wooden stakes, silver bullets and the errant ray of sunlight. With a life insurance policy, a vampire can easily leave a suitable legacy while also providing the means for a fitting funeral.
  2. Vampires need business insurance. With thousands of years of life stretching before them, vampires must have a perpetual means for generating an income. Their independent spirit would likely create an entrepreneurial streak leading to the creation of their own businesses. Business insurance could help a vampire protect his business against liabilities, cyber theft, content damage and more.
  3. Vampires need home insurance. If a man’s home is his castle, then a vampire’s home is … well … really his castle because, as everyone knows, vampires would totally live in castles. But these castles wouldn’t be empty or filled with cheap furniture. Instead they would be filled with valuable antiques the vampire had collected over her several lifetimes. And, in the bedroom, an expensive casket for spending daylight hours away from the sun. In the event of a fire, theft, hurricane, or other covered peril, said vampire would rely on a home insurance policy to replace the value of her property and rebuild her palace.
  4. Vampires need auto insurance. What kind of car would a vampire drive? Well, one with a sense of irony might decide to travel around in a hearse. Others might prefer a car of regal bearing that complements their strength and power. Whatever car a vampire chooses, late night driving and searching for a midnight snack of jugular could someday result in an accident, theft or vandalism, not to mention the potential of an act of nature to bring destruction. Not only can an auto insurance policy protect a vampire against losses from damage done to his car, but it can also pay bodily injury and property damage liability costs.

The living dead might exist only in the hearts and minds of readers and moviegoers, but the risks that they would be exposed to are real and are faced by mere mortals every day. To get the policies that even a vampire would need, and maybe some they wouldn’t, give us a call today! 616-897-1515

5 Tips for Preparing Your Car for Winter

Fall is just about here and that means the hardest season for your vehicle is around the corner. Winter takes its toll on many drivers, particularly if you haven’t taken the time to do some basic maintenance on your vehicle.

Here’s what you need to know to reduce your risks of getting into an accident in slippery conditions and to help you get more life out of your vehicle.

1. Check Your Tires. First, you’ll need to check the tread-wear on your tires. Take a penny and place it in between your tread, with Lincoln’s head facing up. If you can see Lincoln’s hair, you need new tires. You’ll also need to check your tire pressure to make sure it’s at the optimum level for your particular vehicle. If you live in an area with chronically bad winter weather, you may want to consider purchasing snow tires for the winter season.

Prepared for Winter
Is your Car ready for Winter?

2. Replace Your Windshield Wipers. This is one thing that many car owners miss, and it can have serious consequences. The elements are hard on your wipers, and they should be changed twice a year, in spring and fall. Don’t forget to change the wiper on your back window if you have one!

3. Change Your Oil. As the weather cools down, you’ll need to make sure you’re using the right viscosity of oil. If you change your own oil, check your owner’s manual to make sure you’re using the recommended oil. If you’re having it done for you, just ask the shop to provide you with oil that’s right for winter.

4. Check Your Battery. The last thing you need when it’s cold is to end up stranded somewhere. Take your battery to a shop and have it checked to make sure it’s got enough power to get you through winter. If you’re getting your oil changed, many shops will even throw in a battery check for free.

5. Check Your Antifreeze. After the long, hot summer season, you’ll also need to make sure you’ve got the right levels of water and antifreeze in your car. The ideal mix is 50/50. It’s best to have the professionals take care of this one for you, unless you have experience in checking your antifreeze.

These five simple steps will help keep your car running smoothly all winter and reduce the risk of getting into an accident or needing a tow.

Have more questions on your options for vehicle insurance and what you can do to lower your premiums and reduce your claims? Give us a call today at 616-897-1515

Alliance Insurance

Insuring Your College Student

Insurance for College StudentsYou may wonder “why should I pay for insurance when my kids are at away college?” It may be tempting to skip purchasing insurance as a cost-saving measure. However the coverage that a good policy provides can be invaluable, so before your children leave for college in the fall, make sure that they’re properly insured in case of an emergency. Below are three types of insurance you should strongly consider for your college-bound children. 

Health Insurance
If you have children under the age of 26, they can qualify for coverage under your health insurance plan while they attend college. However, if you are currently without health insurance or have only modest coverage, you may wish to purchase a different plan for your children.

Keep in mind that some colleges will require your children to have health insurance before enrolling in classes. While most colleges do offer individual policies if your children don’t have health insurance coverage, these plans often skimp on benefits to keep premiums low. For this reason, if you’re considering purchasing individual health insurance, you may want to check with an independent insurance agent before buying a policy. Your agent may be able to find a plan with more coverage for a similar monthly rate.

Car Insurance
If your children were already driving their own car before going to college, they probably won’t need a new policy. However, it’s important to notify your insurance agent of your children’s address change. If you don’t let the agent know, any insurance claim could be denied. You should also notify your agent if your children are borrowing one of your cars for the semester. They can probably stay on the family auto insurance policy, but your agent will still need to know that they will be living outside your home.

Even if your children won’t have their own cars on campus, it’s still a good idea for them to have some car insurance coverage. Find out if your existing policy will cover them if they rent a car or borrow a friend’s vehicle. If your current policy won’t extend coverage to them, you may want to purchase a non-owner car insurance policy to make sure they’re covered.

Insurance for Students Studying AbroadTravel Insurance
Studying abroad can be a great way for your children to learn about different cultures while expanding their educational horizons. However, once they leave the country, it becomes even more important for them to be covered in case of an emergency. Before they leave, check their health insurance policy to make sure they’re covered in case of an accident while traveling. Many policies don’t offer coverage to your children if they’re outside of the United States. In these cases, travel insurance that offers medical coverage is essential.

When comparing travel insurance policies, be sure to look for medical emergency evacuation coverage. Emergency transportation to a local medical center can cost you thousands of dollars, but this service can be lifesaving. You should also look for policies that offer emergency evacuation in case there is civil unrest, a natural disaster, or other unforeseen events in the country your children are visiting.

Other Considerations
Where will your student be living?
 On campus in a dorm or fraternity/sorority house? Or have they moved off campus to an apartment or rental house? The different variables involved in your child’s living situation, especially for older students, can have an impact on your current policies covering your child. They can also dictate a need to modify your policy or purchase a new one. There could also be a consideration based upon how many roommates your child will be staying with.

The college years often represent your children’s transition into adulthood. To help smooth their path, make sure they’re ready for life’s emergencies. To discuss your children’s travel, health or car insurance needs with a professional, call our office today at (616) 897-1515 and one of our experienced agents will help you assess your child’s changing coverage needs.

3 Scary Halloween Insurance Claims

Let’s look at some of the most common tricks that are pulled on policyholders over the holiday and ways you can safeguard your car and home this Halloween.

Dog Bites on Halloween

1. My dog bit a trick-or-treater! Halloween creates heavy traffic to your home and can be downright spooky for dogs.  A scared dog is on higher alert than normal, and this could result in your furry friend taking a bite out of one of your costumed visitors.

It’s best for you, and your pet, to have them put away from the door when you know traffic will be high – such as Halloween night. They should be fine in a back room, away from the front door. If possible put some of their favorite toys and a treat back with them so they know they are not in trouble. We also recommend turning on the TV or a radio in the room your dog is in to help muffle the doorbell or noise and giggles of trick-or-treaters at the front door, which may stress them out.

Remember not to take this risk lightly. There were over 16,000 dog bite claims last year, making up more than one-third of all liability claims paid out homeowners insurance companies, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). They totaled almost $479 million, averaging nearly $29,400 paid out per claim. Every state has different rules about dog bites, homeowners policies typically cover the liability and medical expenses related to a dog bite, unless your dog or his breed is excluded from your policy.

2. Does my homeowners policy cover TP in the trees? Toilet paper typically doesn’t damage trees, most of the time it’s just paper blowing through the branches, so a claim isn’t necessary. For the most part, toilet paper is merely an annoyance that must be cleaned up in the morning.

However, there have been instances when a tree has been damaged during an act of vandalism.  If this happens, your homeowners policies may cover this – check with your agent to be sure.  If your tree does have damage from vandalism, avoid cutting down limbs or hauling away any debris until a claims adjuster is able to come out to take a look at the damage to the tree or your home.Halloween

3. My car was egged, am I covered? Vandalism is most likely covered by your car insurance policy if you have comprehensive coverage.  Whether or not you should file a claim depends on the amount of damage versus the amount of your deductible. You may be able to remove egg with a simple car wash – though more extensive damage may occur depending on the severity of the vandalism.

In the last few years, we’ve seen claims increase for damage caused by paintballs, water balloons filled with paint or other liquids, and broken windshields with pumpkins thrown through them. If you see severe damage, dents, or your paint eaten away, then a claim may be justifiable.

Your best bet to protect your vehicle is to park your car in the garage or another well-lit, covered area. If you do not have this option, even simply buying a tarp to cover your car can detour vandals.

The good news is that most neighborhoods are prepared for Halloween, and you and your neighbors can look out for each other and the rest of your neighbors. By working together, and helping others be vigilant about safeguarding your street from pranksters, your street will be unattractive to teens ready to egg cars or toilet-paper trees.

What other tips do you have for preventing pranks during Halloween? Share them with us on our Facebook page or Twitter.

6 Autumn Driving Tips

Autumn RoadFall is one of the most beautiful times of year in Michigan. Leaves are changing to magnificent colors, complex and savory vegetables are in season, and the crisp air revitalizes your senses. During such an invigorating time of the year, it can be easy to forget the road hazards that come with the season. As the summer shifts to autumn, be sure to remember these safety tips to help reduce your driving risks and enjoy a safe fall.

  1. Watch for deer. Fall is deer breeding season, the time of year when they become most active and tend to travel in larger groups. Keep a sharp eye out, especially on country roads or in wooded areas. Always slow down around curves, keep your headlights on, and be ready to stop should a deer suddenly cross your path. When driving at night, watch out for your headlights reflecting back in their eyes, and if you see one, assume there may be more close behind!
  2. Monitor visibility. Fall brings shorter days and different sunrise/sunset times. Autumn’s brilliant sunrises and sunsets can be breathtaking, but they can also cause dangerous glares. Consider keeping sunglasses on hand for your daily commute. Additionally, it may be safest to keep your headlights on throughout your commute home to make yourself more visible and to help you see pedestrians, other vehicles, and cyclists.
  3. Be mindful of where you park. There’s nothing more inviting than a pile of leaves during the fall, but be sure not to park your vehicle nearby. Large quantities of leaves near your exhaust system can create a dangerous fire hazard.
  4. Check your tires. A change in seasons means a change in weather patterns. The shifting temperatures can affect your tire pressure, so be sure that all of them (including your spare) are fully inflated and have enough tread.
  5. Be cautious around leaves. Leaf accumulation can cover up street markings, debris, and those potholes Michigan is famous for. Wet leaves in the roadway can also reduce your tire traction, cause skidding, and may also freeze if the temperatures drop too far. Make sure to give yourself enough distance from the car ahead of you and be cautious of your surroundings.
  6. Beware of construction. Beware of constructionHere in Michigan, we know fall by another name – “Construction Season.” Be sure to slow down and watch out for workers near the road. Consider checking out Mi Drive, an interactive map created by the Michigan Department of Transportation (and also available as an app) with live construction updates to help you avoid construction and navigate the roads safely.

Fall is a magical time of year. Enjoy the season to its fullest by keeping your risks low, practicing safe driving habits, and being aware of your surroundings.

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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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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.

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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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!