Car, Home, Toys, and Life Insurance Resource Center

Welcome to the best Michigan insurance resource! Michigan has the most unique insurance laws in the United States. Learn about what it takes to be insured properly as a Michigander. Get saving tips, mandatory coverage amounts, and answers to many frequently asked questions.

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21
Feb 14

Stuck in a Pothole Nightmare – Get Help with Insurance

Are you stuck in a pothole nightmare? How about we just dub 2014 the year of the “Pothole” here in Michigan? This has been one of the harshest winters on record across the country and Michigan’s roads are making the moon’s surface look smooth. Pot holes can cause all kinds of damage to your vehicle. Bent rims, popped tires, misalignment, and bad shocks can all be blamed on our treacherous road conditions. So, who foots the bill for these damages?

The State of Michigan

Michigan Pothole NightmareTo my surprise, the state of Michigan, MDOT, does offer some coverage for damage caused by potholes, but you have to meet very specific requirements. They only cover potholes on a trunkline, which refers to freeways which begin with an I, M, or US. You have to prove the state knew of the pothole for more than thirty days before your damage occurred.

So what exactly is covered? If you are able to prove the state knew of the pothole for more than thirty days prior to your damage, then they will reimburse you for the damages above and beyond what your car insurance will pay. Yes, that means you have to file a claim on your auto insurance first or prove you do not carry collision coverage. Essentially, the state will cover your deductible if you have collision coverage.

Other points of interest when filing a claim with the state include if the amount you are submitting is over $1000 you have to file it with Michigan Court of Claims. Go to www.michigan.gov/mdot to download the form and get further instructions about filing a pothole damage claim.

Honestly, only a handful of people actually get reimbursed through the state. I wouldn’t recommend filing a claim with them due to the hassle alone. Potholes pop up quickly. You probably didn’t know about the pothole before you slammed into it. And if you are not the one who reported the pothole thirty days or more ahead of time, then you are going to have a very difficult time proving the state knew about it.

File a Collision Claim on Your Car Insurance

That is right, collision. Many people have the misconception that comprehensive coverage will cover a pothole damage claim. Unfortunately it is considered a collision when you hit a pothole, the same as if you hit a guard rail or mailbox. Not only is it a collision claim, but also an at-fault claim. Meaning, you will have to pay your deductible and are subject to a surcharge when your car insurance policy renews.

The only way around a deductible and surcharge are if you purchased vanishing deductible coverage and accident forgiveness. Not all policies offer these options, but they sure would come in handy right about now. A lot of the time the damage may not exceed your deductible. Lots of people carry $500 or even $1000 deductibles to reduce the overall cost of Michigan’s expensive car insurance policies. Filing a claim may not be an option.

Please keep in mind, all insurance carriers handle pothole claims the same. They all consider them collisions. So there really isn’t a need to get upset with your insurance carrier. You can expect the same results even if you switch carriers.

You Pay Out of Pocket

Right about now you are probably getting annoyed with me because in the title I said “Get Help with Insurance”. Well I will admit I did lead you on a little. Filing a claim on your car insurance is an option, and it might be a good one if you really cannot afford the full cost of your pothole damage repair. But, most likely you are going to be better off paying for this one out of pocket. As frustrating as it maybe, even if the damage is a little over your deductible, paying for the damage yourself might save you overall because of the potential surcharge. At-fault claim surcharges can last three years and the amount can vary.

We are all going to have to be patient this year as the road crews have a whole lot of work to do. Be mindful of potholes in your area and try to avoid them if at all possible. More potholes will surely be popping up as the roads continue to thaw. Hopefully if you do sustain damage from a pothole, your car will only require an alignment. The average cost of an alignment ranges from $50 to $100 depending on the size of your vehicle. Please remain vigilant and be careful out there!

Report a Michigan Pot Hole

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25
Jan 14

Help! High Winds Damaged My Home

High winds can cause serious damage to your home almost anytime of the year. Siding can be ripped off, shingles can be blown away in large chunks, and lawn chairs and fencing can get tossed. Luckily, most home insurance policies cover a loss due to high winds, straight line winds, and tornadoes. How much coverage you have depends on how you have your home policy set up.

After the Storm

Once you know damage has occurred, it is important to remember to always protect your home from further damage. If shingles are missing, throw a tarp over the exposed area. Same with siding damage, try your best to protect the exposed area from water damage due to rain.

Call your insurance company as soon as possible. I always recommend to start with contacting your agent. Your insurance agent will be able to give you helpful advice on the claims process and possibly direct you to a good siding and roofing expert. If the damage is severe and it is after hours, contact your insurance carrier directly using your company’s 800 number. It is typically advised to have a claims adjuster out to look at the damage before making any repairs. If that is not possible, be sure to take photos and save all receipts.

Replacement Cost Coverage

Most all preferred home insurance policies have a replacement cost option for the structure. In case of a total loss, insurance companies usually cap replacement cost at 125% or 150% of the insured value to cover the cost of a rebuild. Typically a high wind is not going to cause a total loss, so you would get your home repaired like, kind, and quality minus your deductible. Michigan home insurance policies usually come with a flat rate deductible in increments of $250. $500, $1000, and $1500 are all common deductibles seen on home insurance policies.

Repair Cost Coverage

Without replacement cost coverage, you are looking at substantially less coverage. Depreciation will be factored into your claim payout. For instance, if your roof is ten years old, that will be factored into calculating the payout. Replacing your roof might cost $6000, but your coverage might only cover $3500.

Home owner policies are most often sold with replacement cost coverage. It is important to understand the coverage you are purchasing. Always ask your insurance agent whether your policy has replacement cost coverage on both the structure and contents of the home.

More Winter Related Insurance Claims


19
Jan 14

Ice Dam Home Insurance Claim

Do you have huge icicles hanging off the gutters of your home? If you answered yes, you have an ice dam. Ice dams can create major problems for home owners. The build up of ice along the roof line can damage your shingles and allow water to seep into your home. In the midst of a traditional Michigan winter, many homeowner’s face expensive home repairs due to ice dams.

What is an ice dam?

Help with Ice DamsWhen heat escapes your attic it heats and melts the snow on your roof, even in frigid winter temps. The melted snow then leaks down toward the gutters. In the gutter section of your roof, the heat escaping your home can no longer reach the melted snow allowing the freezing cold temps to freeze it in the gutter, especially clogged gutters. The ice then begins building up both as icicles and as a block of ice backing up onto the roof. The ice can begin pushing up your shingles and eventually allow water to seep into your home.

What damage can a ice dam do to your home?

  • It can raise shingles
  • It can rot your roof deck
  • It can damage gutters
  • It can cause water damage to insulation and drywall
  • It can cause mold to grow
  • Hazardous icicles can fall and injure someone

Will home insurance cover damage from an ice dam?

The biggest problem with ice dams and home insurance claims is the length of time it takes for an ice dam to actually start damaging your home enough for visual evidence. Most home insurance policies are written to cover sudden and instant losses like high winds, tornado, burst water pipe, and fire. Home insurance companies do not want to cover damages from something that has been occurring over the course of years. It is possible to have an ice dam claim denied because the damage occurred over a long period of time.

For example: Year after year Joe has a problem with ice dams. The icicles seem to grow bigger and bigger every year. He knocks the icicles down the best he can and goes about his daily business. What he doesn’t know is a patch of shingles have been raised up, and throughout the year rain water is dripping into his home. After a major summer storm, he notices a large water spot on his ceiling. After closer inspection he can see major water damage in his attic which has rotted his roof decking, caused excessive mold growth throughout his insulation, and is now damaging his drywall. All of this damage was not caused by one big summer storm, but years of untreated ice dam problems.

The answer to the question of “Will home insurance cover the damage?” varies depending on your given situation. An ice dam claim can get complicated. It is possible for some if not all of the damage to be covered. The best way to find out is to file the claim and let a claim adjuster take a look at the damage. It is best to act fast when it comes to an ice dam claim. Do not procrastinate filing.

What if someone is injured from a falling icicle?

A falling icicle could possibly cause severe injury. Anyone living in your household including you, cannot claim medical coverage if you are injured by one. Liability coverage on a home owner policy never pays out to the home owners. However, anyone else could be covered. Mailman, neighbor, friend, or other person could file a claim for injury against your home liability coverage. Certainly you do not want anyone to get hurt on your property, so do not let icicles grow out of control on your home.

Preventing Ice Dams

As a homeowner, you are responsible for protecting your home from damage. That includes maintaining proper insulation and ventilation to prevent ice dams. If you cannot afford the cost of proper insulation or improving your ventilation, you can do other things to reduce the likelihood of ice dams. You can use a roof rake or ice melt product. Preventing ice dams can be dangerous work and may require a professional. Your safety is most important, so know when to call in the professionals.

What to Expect with an Ice Dam Claim:

If your home insurance claim is approved, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Your deductible will be subtracted from the claim payout
  • Your home insurance policy will be surcharged for the claim at your next renewal
  • You will be responsible for correcting the insulation and or ventilation problem causing the ice dam

Prevention truly is the best solution to ice dam problems. This is one claim you can avoid. If you see ice build up growing on your roof line, it is time to take action. Don’t wait until the damage is already done.

More Winter Related Home Insurance Claims

Help with Auto Claims


14
Jan 14

What has Been Your Worst Car Accident?

Everyone’s driving history is unique. As an insurance agent, I’ve heard a lot of car accident descriptions. Accidents ranging from falling asleep at the wheel, to getting stuck on top of a deer carcass on the highway. Luckily, I personally have only been in one minor accident.

I was driving my sister’s vehicle at the time, slid on ice, spun 180 degrees, and the tail end of the vehicle hit the median. I was able to drive away after receiving a ticket for driving too fast for weather conditions. I paid her $500 deductible and listened to her complain about the damage for a week until it could get repaired.

My Lessons Learned

  • Do not drive another person’s vehicle
  • Stay home in bad weather conditions
  • Have an emergency fund available for deductibles and even worse tickets

It turned out to be an expensive life lesson, but luckily I did not sustain any injury. I was also lucky she had collision coverage on her vehicle. I have to say though, I have done all of the things on the list to the best of my ability since the accident and it was eleven years ago! I rarely ever drive another person’s vehicle. I hate driving in the winter and I have set up a decent emergency fund just for these types of situations.

What has been your worst car accident? Did your claim go smoothly?

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05
Jan 14

A Snow Plow Damaged My Car, Now What?

Snow plows hit the roads every winter in many states in the US. Sometimes those same snow plows also hit parked cars. The only time a auto claim can be filed against a snow plow is if the snow plow vehicle has physical contact with your vehicle. Damage from piled up snow will not be covered. So what do you do if a snow plow damages your car? It really depends on what information and proof you have regarding the accident.

File the claim on your insurance policy.

Especially in Michigan, filing the claim on your own insurance policy is the easiest way to go. You do need collision coverage in order to file the claim. Both broad and limited collision make is so you do not pay a deductible. Give your insurance carrier the details of the accident and if they have enough information, they can go after the at-fault party for the damages. If you have standard collision, the same process applies however you will have to pay your listed deductible. It is possible to get reimbursed for the deductible if your insurance carrier is able to go after the at-fault party.

Do you know what snow plow company or municipality caused the damage?

If you do not have collision coverage, you will need to try and file a property damage claim against the at-fault snow plow. Maybe the snow tracks clearly indicate a snow plow is to blame for the damage to your vehicle. However, if you do not know exactly who caused the damage, you will not be able to file a claim.

Contact the responsible snow company to file a claim. Search online for your city’s rules on snow plow damage. Most cities have forms you can fill out online to submit a claim. Then a representative will contact you to start the claim process.

Michigan City Claim Quick Links

Do you have any proof a snow plow damaged your car?

It really does not take much to prove a snow plow damaged your vehicle, yet it still can be hard to get. Take a look at what typically qualifies as proof.

  • Driver admits fault
  • Eye witness (you included)
  • Proof you were parked legally (photo/eye witness)

Do your best to protect your vehicle from snow plow damage. Especially during a major snowstorm, snow plow workers are overworked and driving heavy machinery. They may not even realize they caused damage to your vehicle. Always legally park your vehicle and follow your city’s rules. Look out for Snow State of Emergencies which prohibits road parking.

Check out more great insurance info:

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Identity Theft Ice Dam Home Insurance Claim Car Seat Laws

14
Dec 13

5 Reasons to Shovel Your Sidewalk

The snow is coming down hard right now here in the state of Michigan and lots of its surrounding states. It is estimated 110 million Americans are being affected by this winter snow storm. A big part of dealing with winter storms is snow removal. It is important to not forget about your sidewalk when clearing your driveway. Take a look at 5 reasons to get you motivated as you head out to shovel.

  1. Slip and Fall Liability: That is right, as a homeowner you are liable for anyone who slips and falls on your property even if it is on the sidewalk. Some sidewalks have heavier traffic than others. Regardless of how much traffic your sidewalk gets, just one slip and fall can be a huge home owner’s insurance claim. Depending on how severe the injuries are, you could be looking at your full liability limit. Keep your sidewalk clear of snow and spread salt and or sand to prevent ice related slip and falls.

    A liability claim typically does not require a deductible. However, it will affect your future insurance rates. Liability claims against a home owner’s policy are serious. Some preferred insurance companies may not accept your risk when shopping for insurance if they see a liability claim listed in your recent claim history.

  2. Possible City Fines: Cities need their sidewalks cleared not only for public safety, but for economic reasons too. In large cities, foot traffic is crucial for people to get to and from different businesses. Most cities enforce strict fines for failure to remove snow. Shoveling snow into the roadways or in front of mailboxes and fire hydrants is also cause for fines.

    Tickets for not shoveling your sidewalk are often complaint driven. Look up your city’s sidewalk snow shoveling laws online, know your community, and know what to expect. The extra expense of a fine might be the last thing you want to deal with especially around the holidays.

  3. Make Your Home Appear Occupied: Leaving your driveway and sidewalks covered in snow is a giveaway for thieves of a vacant home. Make arrangements for snow removal even when you are on vacation.
  4. Exercise: Winter time is frequently a time of weight gain for many people. Shoveling a sidewalk can be a great way to burn some of those holiday cookies off. Shoveling snow should be proceeded with caution. Make certain you are up for the task before heading out.
  5. Courtesy: It really is just common courtesy to shovel your sidewalk. Don’t be the house forcing a person in a wheel chair to get out in the street. Have pride in your community and neighborhood by protecting it against treacherous walkways.

More Winter Related Insurance Claims

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Identity Theft Ice Dam Home Insurance Claim Car Seat Laws

13
Dec 13

The Best Way of Obtaining a Police Report in Michigan

Police reports in Michigan have gone digital. The best and seemingly only way to obtain a police report in Michigan is online. Police reports are very handy to have when it comes to filing an auto insurance claim. Getting a police report after a car accident will provide detailed information of all the people involved, the vehicles involved, insurance info for all parties, and a description of the accident.

How to Get a Police Report Online:

  • The responding police officer will give all parties involved a business card with the police report number listed.
  • Wait three to five days for the police report to be processed
  • Go to Authorizetransaction.com
  • Select your city’s police department
  • Enter the accident date
  • Enter the police report number
  • Enter last name of person involved

The date of your accident is important, so do not forget it. Authorizetransaction.com charges $10 for reports. In their terms of use they clearly state prices are subject to change without notice. It is easy to access your police report 24/7 on this site as long as you have the required information.

Other Options:

Check with your police department: Most police departments will refer you to use the online service. However, some units allow reports to be obtained in person. Plan on having your picture ID ready and also plan on paying a fee. Many will expect cash or check only. Also beware, it might take longer than the standard 3 to 5 days to complete a report.

Mailing in a request is also a possibility. Ask the police department for the mailing address. Send the police report number along with a self address envelope. You will also need to include the report fee. Accessing the report online is sounding better and better.

Won’t my insurance carrier get the police report for me?

Good news! Most of the time, yes your insurance carrier will get the police report for you in Michigan. Most standard collisions will be handled by your insurance carrier due to the No-Fault law. When you report your insurance claim, give the claim representative the police report number and they will take care of the rest.

Mini Tort Claim:

When it comes to a mini tort claim, usually you will be responsible for getting a copy of the police report. A mini tort claim is a claim you file against the at-fault driver when you, the not at-fault driver has to pay a deductible or has no collision coverage. The police report will be used to verify you were not at-fault.

Some insurance agents help their clients file mini tort claims, however your agent really should not be personally responsible for the police report fee. The agent is going out of the way to help you file a claim against another insurance carrier, they should not hold the burden of paying the police report fee too.

Help with Michigan Car Insurance Coverage

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04
Dec 13

Top 5 Michigan Winter Related Car Claims


Winter car insurance claims in Michigan can be hard to handle. Being on guard and aware of your surroundings is your best defense. Avoid common distractions while driving such as cell phones, GPS devices, and snow covered windows your safety and bank account depend on it. Be on the look out for the top five Michigan winter claims this winter season and know what coverage will provide protection.

  • Sliding on Snow and Ice Collision Claim: Whether you hit another car or a guard rail due to sliding on snow or ice, it is considered a collision. The vehicle doing the sliding would most likely be considered at-fault in the accident. Collision coverage is required in order to have coverage to protect you against this type of loss.
  • Tow Claim: Tow claims are always common, but they really increase in the winter time. Again with the sliding on snow and ice, but this time you only hit the ditch. If you are lucky enough to avoid car damage, you can get away with just a tow claim. Roadside assistance or towing is the coverage you would need to provide coverage when you are stuck in the snow.
  • Pot Hole Claim: Pot holes are common on Michigan roads. The freezing and thawing of the roads combined with tons of salt make them nearly impossible to keep filled. Hidden under a blanket of snow can make pot holes even harder to avoid. Pot hole claims are considered at-fault accidents according to Michigan insurance carriers. Collision coverage is required to file a pot hole claim.
  • Deer Claim: Those pesky deer are always causing trouble. The fall months are the most common for deer claims but do not let that allow you to drop your guard. Deer can be seen anytime of the year on Michigan roadways. Comprehensive coverage will be required in order for your insurance company to cover a loss caused by a deer.
  • Hail Damage Claim: Hail can strike at anytime during most Michigan seasons, especially winter. Hopefully, your car is safely parked in the garage during a hail storm, but if you happen to be out and about or parked at work, you could be looking at some serious damage. All those little dings will be covered by your car insurance as long as you carry comprehensive coverage. Low deductibles are common with comprehensive coverage, but it can certainly vary, so check with your insurance agent to determine how much you will have to pay for your deductible.

Snow Covered Road

Michigan data shows most accidents actually occur on clear days. Does that mean there are just more clear days throughout the year or does it mean people let their guard down? Either way, accidents can occur anytime of any day. Defensive driving should be your normal driving style. Take the responsibility of driving seriously and do not ever think it can’t happen to you.

Help with Michigan Car Insurance Coverage

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03
Dec 13

Will the State of Michigan Pay for a Deer Car Accident?

When you are in a stressful situation, it is common to try and find someone to blame. Hitting a deer in Michigan with your vehicle is a stressful and often costly situation where you might blame the state of Michigan itself. I mean they ought to have better control over the deer population right? Maybe even some guard railing protecting the cars on the roadway from suicidal deer. So can you submit damages to your vehicle from a deer car accident to the state of Michigan?

Well, you can probably submit your information all you want, but you are not going to get any money out of the state of Michigan for a deer car accident. It just is not feasible for the state to cover the losses sustained by deer car accidents. Good luck even trying to get the state of Michigan to pay for pot hole damages to your vehicle.

The best way to protect your car is to purchase comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for car repair after a deer car accident minus your deductible. Keep your deductible in mind when you purchase the coverage and make sure it is an amount that will work within your budget. Many times I have heard clients say a deer car accident is an act of god so the deductible should be waived. Another deer accident myth I’m afraid. Deductibles are in place to keep the overall cost of insurance down. If all animal and weather related claim deductibles were waived, insurance would not be affordable once so ever.

More on Deer Car Claims


26
Nov 13

Michigan Holiday Roadway Warning

It is that time again when lots and lots of Michigan residents hit the roadways to visit friends and family for the holidays. Lots of drivers combined with frigid temperatures make the roadways a difficult place to maneuver. Add in a few adult beverages and you are really looking for trouble. Remember the holidays are a time for celebration, not a time to deal with a major potentially life threatening car accident.

According to www.michigan.gov Thanksgiving fatalities average approximately 19 over the four day holiday weekend. In 2012 there were 9 Michigan fatalities due to car accidents. The stats show over the last 5 years the number of deaths have not exceeded 11 people. Hopefully, we will stay in a downward trend for deadly accidents this holiday season. Anymore than zero is one too many.

Both Christmas and New Year’s average 13 fatalities per year over the holiday season. In 2012 Christmas had 9 fatalities and New Years had 15. Please be aware of your surroundings and take your time traveling. Follow the rules of the road, they are in place for a reason. The holidays are a time to reflect on what we are thankful for and celebrate with family. Have a very happy and safe holiday season.

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