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.

Insurance Where You Live

Aug 14

My Neighbor’s Tree Fell On My Property, Who Pays?

Love thy neighbor, that is until their tree falls right on your house right? Then it’s how did this happen? Why didn’t they trim that tree? Who is going to pay for this? It might seem like the owner of the tree ought to be held responsible, however, their home insurance is not going to cover any damages to your property. It is probably even more far fetched to think they are going to pay out of pocket. It really is not their responsibility to either.

How It Works

Neighbor's Tree Fell on My PropertyIt is your job to make sure your home is protected properly. The best way to protect your property is with a home insurance policy. Home insurance covers your property, not your neighbors. It works the same for both of you, their policy is not going to cover your property just as your policy will not cover their property. If a neighbor’s tree falls on your house, you need to call your home owner’s insurance company to file a claim. You will be responsible for paying your deductible.

Standard Policy Provides Coverage For:

  • Tree on Your House
  • Tree Across Your Driveway
  • Tree on Out Building, Pool, or Fence

No Damage, Just a Neighbor’s Tree In My Yard

The neighbor’s tree comes down in your yard and they don’t want to pay to get it cleaned up and neither do you. This situation usually really gets people fired up. Most standard home insurance policies do not cover a single downed tree after a storm. Someone’s got to give or you are going to be stuck with a nature made jungle gym in the yard. A lot of people are using wood burning stoves nowadays, many are happy to come and clean up a down tree so they can keep the wood. Call and ask your insurance agent if they know anyone who could be of help. The bottom line is if the tree is on your property, you are responsible to clean it up.

Neighbor’s Tree Fell On My Car

Ok, so what about your car? You guessed it, your car insurance is going to be the place to look for coverage. If you have comprehensive coverage on the damaged vehicle, you are covered. Plan on paying your deductible.

Injured From a Neighbor’s Tree Falling

Freak accidents can happen. If a neighbor’s tree falls on you, then you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. If it occurs on your neighbor’s property, it should be fairly cut and dry. Now if you were on your property and the tree falls on you, it gets more complicated. You could try filing a claim against your neighbor’s home insurance policy. You should probably speak to claim adjuster and or a personal injury attorney to determine what is covered. There are just so many “what ifs” out there, it is very difficult to determine the exact coverage for everyone.

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Jul 14

Is Home Owner’s Insurance Required in Michigan?

Michigan has a lengthy list of insurance laws. Car insurance is a requirement for all drivers, home owner’s insurance is a different story. There is no law saying home owner’s insurance is required. The factor which really determines if you will be forced to carry insurance is whether or not you have a mortgage or lender of some sort.

Your mortgage company or land contract holder want to make sure their investment is protected. If your home were to go up in flames, they would be out their investment without insurance in place. As part of your mortgage or land contract agreement, you also agree to keep the property insured.

Is Michigan Home Insurance a Must?Pay off your home and insuring it becomes an option. A home is one of the largest investments you will ever make. Insuring it is highly recommended. Home owner’s insurance protects both your home and your belongings. Unless you have a big pile of cash in the bank, you’d be wise to keep your home insured.

What about Flood and Earthquake insurance?

If you live in a flood or earthquake zone, your lender will require theses coverages. Remember your lender wants to be fully protected. Luckily here in Michigan we do not have to worry too much about earthquakes, but flood is definitely a possibility in some areas. Make sure you are aware of those risks when you a purchasing a home.

What happens if I have a lender and do not keep my home insured?

Thinking of saving some cash by opting out of home owner’s insurance? Think again. Because you have agreed to keep your home insured in your lender agreement, your lender can purchase a policy for your property and send the bill to you. These third party insurance policies are very expensive and will not cover any of your belongings. You are much better off buying a policy and keeping it current throughout the mortgage period.

What about Renter’s Insurance?

It is important for renters to carry insurance too. Some apartment buildings and rented homes require it in order to rent. Renter’s insurance will protect your belongings and any liability you might incur.

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Apr 14

Will My Home Insurance Cover Lightning Strike or Power Surge?

Let’s face it, we all know we should unplug our major appliances and electronics during a thunderstorm, but how often do we actually do it? Sometimes you’re not at home, sometimes you’re sleeping, and sometimes you just don’t want to be bothered with the hassle. So when lightning strikes or your power surges, are your appliances and electronics protected on your home owner’s insurance policy?

The Quick Answer

Lightning StrikeMore than likely, yes. A standard home owner’s policy covers lightning strike and power surges. Your deductible will apply and filing this type of claim will cause a surcharge to go against your policy. The good news is that a lightning strike or power surge is typically a lower surcharge than say a theft or fire claim. Meaning you should not see a huge rate hike if this is your first claim.

How Does a Lightning Claim Work?

  • Check for possibility of repairs to damaged items
  • Notify your insurance carrier of damaged items
  • Get depreciated costs for items plus subtract deductible
  • Replace the items you want
  • Submit receipts to the claims adjuster to get full reimbursement

Lightning claims are typically very easy claims to file. Sometimes if the storm is a major one, they may not even send an adjuster to your home and handle it right over the phone. It depends on the circumstances like how many of your electronic items were hit and their dollar amount.

It is important you are aware of the fact that most home insurance carriers will non-renew your policy if three claims are filed within a three year period. You want to make sure this, lightning claim, is a worth while claim because you never know what to expect weather wise in the upcoming three years. My general rule of thumb for home owners is if the claim is $1000 more than your deductible, it is time to contact your insurance carrier to file a claim.

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Apr 14

Top 5 Reasons to Buy Renters Insurance – Can You Believe Number 5?

Attention all renters! Do you have a renters insurance policy? If not, it is time to rethink your decision. In a world of unknowns, you do not want to gamble with all of your belongings. Check out what makes renters insurance so important and why you should get a quote today.

  1. You Never Know What Your Neighbors Are Doing
    If you are a renter in an apartment complex, duplex, or condo, you share walls with your neighbors. The main problem with that is you don’t know what your neighbors are up to at any given time. No matter how diligent you are about blowing out candles, turning off the stove, never using space heaters, your neighbors could be very careless. I’m not trying to scare you, but really do you trust your neighbors with your belongings?
  2. You Could Lose Everything You have Worked For
    All it takes is one unattended candle, one faulty electrical wire, one deadly tornado and all of your belongings are disintegrated. What would you do? How would you start over? Buy Renter's Insurance NowA renter’s insurance policy would provide the protection you need to get your life back on track. Clothes, furniture, electronics and a whole lot more of your accumulated belongings would covered whether you want to replace them or not would be up to you.
  3. You Will Need A Place to Go After a Major Claim
    You may not know this, but renters policies don’t just cover your contents. They also cover loss of use, meaning if you are unable to live in your apartment due to a covered loss, your insurance policy will cover the costs of temporary housing. That could mean the costs of a hotel for a week, or it could be another apartment if you are put out for an extended period of time. Renter’s policies either come with a year of covered expenses or a fixed dollar amount of coverage. Ask your insurance agent how much coverage is offered for loss of use. Seriously, this coverage could mean the world of difference if you ever find yourself in a major disaster. Staying with Mom and Dad can only last so long, and is not always a possiblity.
  4. Liability Protection

    Lots of renters think they have no risk of being held liable since they rent. Well I have news for you, if you own a dog you could most definitely be held liable for your dog’s actions. Dogs have a lot of contact with other residents when living in an apartment community. Even the most lovable dog can have a bad day and bite someone. A renter’s insurance policy would protect you in this situation. It might surprise you that claims can even be paid out when no blood is drawn.

    Here is another scenario, what if you were the one who had a grease fire get out of hand and burned the complex down? Could you be held liable? Well, its not impossible. More than likely someone will try to go after the at-fault party. A neighbor without insurance could sue you. Or, a neighbor who files a claim on their renter’s insurance policy could result in the insurance company subrogating and looking to be reimbursed by the at-fault party. Or, the landlord could go after you for their deductible. In any case, unless you have your own renter’s insurance policy to protect you, bankruptcy will probably be in your future.

  5. Renter’s Insurance Could Cost $15 or Less a Month!
    If a few favorable factors come together at the same time, you could get a renter’s insurance policy at a very low cost. Purchasing your renter’s insurance through your auto insurance carrier is the key. Even though your renter’s insurance may cost between $20 and $40 a month, you could potentially save that much on your auto insurance policy. The multi-policy discount is one of the biggest discounts you can get on your auto insurance. Use the savings on your auto policy to pay for your renter’s insurance and there you have it, renter’s insurance for $15 or less.

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Feb 14

How to Get a Home Owners Insurance Quote

Purchasing a home is a huge step and can be a stressful process. Your overall stress can be reduced by researching ahead of time. It can save you a whole lot of hassle if you learn about home insurance coverage and the information you will need to get a quote. Get a grasp on the quote process and get some great tips along the way.

What info you need for a home quote:

  • Names, Current Address, Birth dates, and Social Security Numbers of the Home Owner’s
  • What is the address of home to be insured?
  • What year was the home built?
  • Is it a one or two story home?
  • Does the home have a full or partial basement? Is the basement finished?
  • What is the square footage of home?
  • Type of siding?
  • How many bathrooms?
  • Is the garage attached or detached?
  • Does the home have a deck? What is the square footage?
  • Is there a fireplace or wood burning stove?
  • Do you want to schedule any items such as jewlery?
  • How much liability coverage do you want?
  • What deductible are you interested in?

How to Get a Home QuoteThese are the basic questions used to determine the replacement cost of your home. More questions will be asked to complete the application if you choose to purchase the policy. You can find most of this information on the Realtor listing of the home if it is a new purchase. Probably the most important question is the square footage of the home. It is also the most often unknown information. It is important to be as accurate as possible to ensure your home replacement cost is calculated properly. Image: Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee /

Standard Home Insurance Coverage

Section 1

  • Coverage A – Dwelling Protection This is the amount the home structure itself is insured for.
  • Coverage B – Other Structures Protection This coverage is automatic whether you have a detached building or not. It is there for future use and includes coverage for fencing.
  • Coverage C – Personal Property Protection All of your contents fall here. It includes contents in detached buildings. It also extends to items off your home premises up to a certain percentage of coverage.
  • Coverage D – Loss of Use Protection Can’t live in your home due to a claim? This coverage will put you up in a hotel or other living arrangement until your home is back to normal. Many policies offer an unlimited dollar amount up to 12 months, but some use a percentage or fixed dollar amount.

Section 2

  • Personal Liability – Each Occurrence This coverage is only good for people injured on your property who do not live in your household. Personal liability can payout for things like dog bites and slip and fall accidents.
  • Medical Payments to Others This coverage comes in handy for minor accidents which occur on your property. It is also only available to people who do not live in the household. Medical payments payout before personal liability. This coverage is intended to reduce personal liability claims.

Other things to consider when getting a home owners insurance quote:

  • Deductible: It is up to you to choose your deductible. The most important thing about choosing a deductible is remembering what it is so you can plan for it. Michigan home insurance policies often offer deductibles in increments of $500 or sometimes even $250. Most policies nowadays start at $500 and some have even increased to $1000. Just remember, the higher your deductible, the lower your insurance cost.
  • Other Coverage: Ask about other coverage including backup of sewer and or sump pump, increasing jewelry or firearm coverage, and identity theft coverage. Many home insurance policies can vary on other specific coverage such as trees falling on your property and food spoilage. Ask about these types of coverage. Some might be included in your home owner’s policy package and some may need to be added on if you want it.

Hopefully you will have an experienced insurance agent to guide you through the home owner’s insurance quote process. If this is your first home purchase, there is a lot you are going to need to learn. Home insurance is not something you want to be passive about. Spending a little extra time now to go over everything regarding protecting your home, can save you big time in the future. The more you know about your policy, the more likely you are to be covered properly.

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Feb 14

Yes You’re Engaged! Now Who Insures the Diamond Ring?

Almost every girl dreams of the day their special someone will pop the question, “Will you marry me?”. Wearing that big sentimental token of affection, aka a gorgeous diamond ring, can quickly begin to wear on a girl’s nerves. What if I lose it? What if I bang it and the diamond falls out? What if it gets stolen? We need to insure this thing quick! Now the question is who should insure the ring?

The Bride-to-Be

Diamond Engagement Ring

The person who insures an engagement ring ought to be the owner of the ring. Technically even though it is typically the man who purchases the ring, he gives the ring to his future bride as a symbol of his love and commitment. Therefore, it is the bride-to-be’s job to protect it and that includes insuring it.

Where to Insure a Diamond Engagement Ring

  • Renter’s Policy
  • Home Onwer’s Insurance Policy

Most all renter’s and home owner’s policies will automatically cover a ring for named perils such as fire or theft. In both cases a deductible would apply. To get the protection most future brides are looking for, the ring needs to be scheduled on the policy. Scheduling a ring means you have given the insurance company a copy of the ring appraisal and the ring is listed separately from the rest of your contents. It is then insured for any type of loss including mysterious disappearance, aka it gets lost. Another perk of scheduling a ring is if something happens to it, no deductible applies. Scheduling a ring does increase your insurance policy cost, but it is most definitely worth it to protect your new found love.

What if the future bride lives with her parents?

The insurance company should allow the ring to be scheduled on the bride’s parents’ home insurance policy as long as it is her permanent address. Once the bride moves out, it then needs to be removed and added to a new policy. It is best to fully disclose living arrangements with an insurance agent to make sure you are insured properly.

What if the bride-to-be lives with her fiance and the home insurance policy is only in his name?

More than likely, in this situation the bride-to-be does NOT have any coverage on her contents under her fiance’s policy. Unless you are married or blood relatives, home policies usually do not extend to other individuals other than the owner. The bride should get a renter’s policy for her contents while living in the home with her fiance. It might sound like insurance overkill, but you will be much happier in case of a claim. Image: Boykung /

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Feb 14

Is Identity Theft Coverage on Home Insurance Recommended?

Identity theft is a huge concern nowadays. Several major retailers have had their credit card system’s compromised recently leaving many people wondering how to protect themselves. You may not be aware that most home insurance carriers offer identity theft coverage. Find out if identity theft coverage is a good option for protecting yourself against this widespread crime.

What does home insurance usually cover when it comes to identity theft?

One thing to keep in mind is that home owner’s identity theft coverage is not a preventative coverage. In no way does it help prevent a loss. Identity Theft and Home InsuranceIt is only to help you clear your name. Once a thief has stolen your identity, you can file a claim. Not all home owner insurance coverage works exactly the same. I did look up a couple of popular insurance carriers and all of their coverage was similar. Basically they will help you with any fees associated with your loss up to a certain dollar amount, many stating $25,000 as their limit.

  • Cost of getting your credit report
  • Any fees for reapplying for loans or grants
  • Phone, postage, and shipping fees
  • Notary and filing fees for costs you incur to correct your identity and credit records
  • Legal fees resulting from identity fraud
  • Up to $1,000 for deductibles or service fees from financial institutions, not to exceed the coverage limit
  • Up to $5,000 combined for lost wages and child and elder care expenses, not to exceed the coverage limit

Could it really cost $25,000 to clear your name of identity theft?

I really do not have the authority to say no it could never happen. However, I do know it is not likely. According to a Federal Trade Commission study, over half of all victims did not have to pay any out-of-pocket expenses due to identity theft. Now your time is a different story. It can consume a lot of your time talking with different financial institutions to get results. And most home insurance coverage provides experts to work on your behalf. Now that might make the coverage worth it right there.

How much does identity theft coverage cost?

The cost of ID theft coverage is fairly minimal. Some companies charge a flat annual fee, for example $25. Meanwhile some others include it in their high-end policies, packaging it along with other coverage.

When can you add identity theft coverage to your policy?

Most insurance carriers only allow this coverage to be added at the time of your policy renewal. It is not often you see carriers allowing clients to add this coverage mid-term. It is best to ask your insurance agent when you can add this coverage.

Would I recommend identity theft coverage on home owner’s insurance?

Due to its low cost, it is a decent coverage to have handy. I would recommend it to seniors who are especially concerned with identity theft. I do think the average person can handle getting themselves back on track after an identity theft situation without the help of an insurance policy. This is a coverage I would let my clients know about so they can make an educated decision on their own as to whether they want it or not.

If you are concerned with your credit right now, you should check your credit report. offers a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies annually.

Is your home damaged from high winds? Find out how insurance companies handle wind claims in Help! High Winds Damaged My Home

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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.

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Jan 14

Frozen Pipes Home Insurance Claim

When standing water gets trapped in your home’s pipes and the temperature plummets below freezing, you are at serious risk of frozen pipes. The frozen water expands and bursts a hole right through the pipe or breaks the pipe at its seam. If it is not caught in time, once the water starts moving again you could be looking at a huge loss due to water damage. Home insurance could come to your rescue depending on the amount of damage and your coverage.

Is a frozen pipe covered on my home insurance?

Do you want the good news or the bad news? Starting with the bad news, a home owner’s policy does not cover a damaged pipe from freezing water. The home owner will be responsible for repairing the broken pipe and any associated plumber costs. Maintenance repairs are always the homeowner’s responsibility.

The good news, most home owner’s insurance policies do cover water damage from a frozen pipe. So what does that mean exactly? Well, it means if you have 3 inches of standing water damaging your floor, dry wall, and belongings, your insurance policy will cover the damage minus your deductible. Most Michigan home policies come with a flat rate deductible such as $500 or $1000. Lots of other states have their deductible a percentage of the home coverage. Which means if your home is insured for $250,000 and your deductible is set to 10%, you would be responsible for a $25,000 deductible.

Not all home policies cover water damage.

Unfortunately, not all home policies cover water damage from a frozen pipe. Sometimes a higher deductible applies to water damage and sometimes it is excluded all together. This information is very important to understand at the time you purchase the policy. It can be difficult locating water damage coverage in your home owner’s insurance paperwork. If you are not sure whether your insurance policy covers water damage, call your insurance agent or carrier right away.

How much will my insurance cover?

A good policy will have replacement cost coverage on both your home and contents. Replacement cost does not mean you will receive the full replacement value up front. Most companies restrict replacement cost reimbursement by only paying out actual cash value at first, then giving you the full replacement cost once you show the items have been replaced. Proof is usually in the form of a receipt. It is up to you whether you want to replace the items or not. This cuts back on insurance fraud.

Frozen pipe home insurance claims are not at all uncommon. Damage can easily reach $5000 from a single frozen pipe. These types of claims are preventable with a little foresight.

Tips to Avoid Frozen Pipes

  • Leave your water dripping to relieve pressure.
  • Drain pipes of water.
  • Have a generator ready for when you lose power.

How will a water claim impact my insurance rate?

A water claim is one of the worse claims to file. Often water claims are preventable, whereas a weather related claim usually is not. Expect higher insurance points assigned to a water claim and expect a surcharge at your renewal. Surcharges usually last three years. And a little warning, more than two claims filed in three years on your homeowner’s insurance is cause for your policy to be non-renewed by most insurance carriers. Contact your insurance representative to learn more about your policy specifics.

Have you ever had your pipes freeze? How much damage was caused?

More Winter Related Insurance Claims

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.

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