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Be Prepared for Winter!

Winter has arrived. Keep the following tips in mind to make sure you and your vehicle are prepared for winter emergencies.

  • Preventive maintenance prior to the winter season is the best way to ensure safe travel. Regularly check fluid levels such as power steering, brake, windshield washer and oil.
  • Make sure the antifreeze is strong enough to prevent freezing of the engine and fresh enough to prevent rust.
  • In cold weather, you may also want to change the windshield washer fluid to one containing an antifreeze agent.

While proper maintenance is key, knowing how to drive in adverse conditions can also keep you safe. The Parent’s Supervised Driving Guide offers the following tips for driving in different weather conditions.

Wet & slippery roads:

  • Turn on the wipers as soon as the windshield becomes wet.
  • Turn on the low-beam headlights; this helps others see you.
  • Drive 5 to 10 mph slower than normal and increase your following distance to 5 or 6 seconds.
  • Be more cautious, and slow down on curves and when approaching intersections.
  • Turn the defroster on to keep windows from fogging over.
  • If you must make adjustments while driving, make sure the road ahead is clear before looking down at the dashboard – and look away for only a second or two.

Snow

  • Make sure your vehicle is clear of snow and ice before driving. Driving can cause snow/ice to slide and block your view, or fly off and strike other vehicles.
  • When starting to drive in snow, keep the wheels straight ahead and accelerate gently to avoid spinning the tires.
  • Decrease your speed to make up for a loss of traction. Accelerate and decelerate gently, and be extra careful when braking.
  • Stopping distances can be 10 times greater in ice and snow. Begin the slowing-down process long before a stop. Brake only when traveling in a straight line.
  • Look ahead for dangerous spots, such as shaded areas and bridge surfaces that may be icy when the rest of the road is clear.

Lastly, check out the Auto Emergency Prepardness Kit Checklist from the Michigan State Police and see what you should have in your vehicle in case you are stranded.

Special thank you to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson for her content.

Hidden Risks Lurk in Rental Cars for Travelers this Holiday Season

During the holiday season, many travelers rely on rental cars to reach their destinations. Many of today’s cars are designed to make hands-free calls, stream music, and even access the internet — but one has to connect to an infotainment system first.

But in order to do this, the infotainment system may store personal information kept on a driver’s phone, says AAA.

“The stored information in mobile devices is vulnerable to theft. If you sync your mobile phone to a rental car, you open yourself up to having your personal information stolen,” Lori Weaver Hawkins, Blue Grass AAA, said in a statement. “It is possible for an unauthorized person to gain access to things like home address and the code for your garage door opener.”

Know Your Risks:

There are currently no industry or government standards for vehicle infotainment systems, but the first step to safeguarding your personal data is to know the type of information an infotainment system may store.

Potentially stored information:

  • Home address, work address, and other saved or frequently used GPS locations.
  • Home phone number.
  • Call and message logs.
  • Personal contacts.
  • Garage opener programming.

Reducing Your Risks:

To avoid a data breach of any kind, there are a number of steps drivers can take.

  1. Purchase a phone charger for your phone that plugs into the cigarette lighter adapter port rather than the USB port. The lighter adapter port does not access your information.
  2. Use your phone’s GPS without syncing up with the rental car.
  3. Check your phone’s permissions to learn what information your car can access. When syncing your phone, if your infotainment systems allows you to choose which types of information you share, restrict it to only what’s necessary. For instance, if you’re only syncing your phone to play music, the car only needs access to your music library, not your personal contacts or other data.
  4. Before handing your keys over to a valet, check to see if your car’s infotainment system has a valet mode you can set that will protect your sensitive data.
  5. Before trading in your car or returning a rental car, go to the settings menu on the car’s infotainment system to find a list of synced devices. When you find your devices, follow the prompts to delete them. If you can’t figure out how to do this, check the owner’s manual or an online tutorial.

Special Thanks to Denny Jacob for his content.

Winter Storage Advice

We know many of you have already put away vehicles, motorcycles and boats for the winter.  We wanted to pass along this good information as you continue to prepare for winter storage.

When Andrew Singer brought home his newest collectible car in the spring of 2017, it failed the sniff test. Sugar, the Singer family’s terrier, threw her paws over the left front fender of the 2006 Lotus Elise, and the yellow roadster advanced no further into the garage. Sugar smelled the spice of mice.

During the winter, as the result of the previous owner’s careless winter storage, the little rodents built a nest in the dashboard behind the speedometer. “They hadn’t damaged anything—just were hanging out,” Singer said. Over a long winter, rodents can wreak more automotive misery per ounce than any car deserves, chewing up wiring, upholstery, and fabric. A popular mouse-fighting measure is to put dryer sheets in the passenger compartment. But some experts dispute the effectiveness, saying the smell may only offer an initial defense before mice get used to it. Mousetraps and mothballs on the garage floor may prove little more effective.

Singer has found an altogether foolproof defense for his collection. “The cat patrols the garage after dinner,” he said. Rodent protection is just one consideration for those who decommission their vintage and collectible cars during the winter. Here are a few other tips for protecting that special car:

Wash & Wax
Wash and wax the body and give the interior a once-over to remove specks, globs, and splats that might have a corrosive effect.

Fuel Tank

To prevent varnish from forming, fill the gas tank and add fuel stabilizer. Doing this will thwart contaminants. One source recommends running the engine a few minutes to circulate stabilized gas through the fuel system.

Oil Change

Change the oil and filter, which are likely to have corrosion-causing agents. Top off the levels of other fluids. Changing engine coolant, transmission fluid, and differential oil is optional and proves just how meticulous one can be.

Storage

A nice, dry garage is ideal for winter storage. Even if the car is garaged, a vapor barrier on the floor prevents condensation buildup on the underbody and suspension. Sheet plastic or a tarp will do the job.

Tires

“If your car will be in storage for more than 30 days, consider taking the wheels off and placing the car on jack stands at all four corners,” says Edmunds.com. Where winter isn’t too long, adding extra air to the tires will serve to prevent flat spots.

Parking Brake

Leave a car with automatic transmission in “Park.” Leave a car with a manual transmission in neutral and chock the wheels. Either way, do not set the parking brake, which would result in brake pads “freezing” against the drums or rotors because of corrosion.

Battery

Remove the battery and put it on a tender until spring.

Car Cover

Car covers are worth the expense. Our favorite purveyor of upmarket car-care items describes their triple-layer cover in technical terms that made us think we’d found NASA’s website by mistake. The cover should be breathable and have a soft inner layer to protect the paint.

There are more elaborate schemes for preserving a special car in the winter. Some owners are so fastidious, they might advocate having it shrink-wrapped and sent to the International Space Station. But the list we present here is just right for the average person’s Saturday afternoon and will keep 99.5 percent of the problems at bay—especially if, as our friend Andrew Singer attests, the dog and cat are living up to their end of the bargain.

Special thanks to Hagerty for their content.

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Olivier-VanDyk Insurance

Personal Insurance: Trends in Construction Costs

construction-trend

Material and labor costs are both contributing to higher construction costs.

Reconstruction cost – or replacement cost – is the cost of hiring a contractor to replace your home as it is, using materials and design of the same or similar quality. This amount is not the same as market value, which is the value of comparable homes that have sold in your area. Your home’s current reconstruction cost could be very different from its market value.

The U.S. economy is growing, unemployment is low, wages are up and all signs point to increased construction activity and costs. However, supply issues in all facets of construction – building lots, labor and materials – are affecting these activities.

As a result, construction costs are rising. Material cost increases are the highest they have been in six years, and labor is more difficult to find. It was challenging to secure labor and materials before the hurricanes and wildfires in 2017, and now the repairs and rebuilding efforts are putting even more stress on construction costs, according to published producer price index figures.

chart-cost-increases

Construction-related cost increases: November 2016-November 2017, according to Producer Price Index figures.

2018 CONSTRUCTION TRENDS

According to Lorman Education Services, builders and contractors will undoubtedly adjust their costs to match the construction industry. Here are a few trends that could affect how they conduct business:

  1. Improving technologies – There is no doubt technological advancements have improved construction methods — from mobile technologies to the Cloud and the ability to communicate across multiple venues. Expect to see more virtual reality and augmented reality use for projects. Advances in technologies like 3D printing, drone use, self-driving vehicles and more efficient coatings for specific surfaces will affect construction costs.
  2. Increased spending growth – Construction demands continue to increase worldwide, for both residential and non-residential building.
  3. Increased modular construction – With speed being a major factor in construction today, the industry likely will see more modular construction projects. Pop-ups and permanent modular buildings for national companies could become the hottest construction trend. These types of construction are becoming much more energy-efficient, which is always attractive to homebuyers and commercial businesses.
  4. Increased safety measures – According to Lorman Education Services, statistics still show construction as the leader in all industry workplace accidents. This is expected to slowly improve for the coming year with better technologies and procedures. Safety mobile apps can help prevent accidents and provide better communication and OSHA compliance.
  5. Economizing – Price increases for supplies and skilled labor shortages are plaguing the construction industry. To reduce expenses, technologies like wearables (such as, the Spot-R by Triax™, XOEye Smart Glasses and DAQRI Smart Helmet™) can better track equipment and how laborers work. More thorough metrics and monitoring are likely the key to offsetting rising costs.

Contact Olivier-VanDyk insurance agent to ensure your replacement cost coverage limits have kept up with the rising cost of construction.

Special thank you to  for her content.

Coverages described here are in the most general terms and are subject to actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact.

 

Halloween Safety Tips

Whether on the job or at home, we should all be mindful of the “little things” that can impact our safety, as well as the safety of those around us. This Halloween, don’t be “tricked” into doing something unsafe. “Treat” yourself and your loved ones by embracing the fun activities surrounding your local Halloween festivities. But, before you do, please take a moment and consider some of these simple safety guidelines:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flames.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and treat bags.
  • While children can help with the fun of designing a Jack-O-Lantern, leave the carving to adults.
  • Always keep Jack-O-Lanterns and hot electric lamps away from drapes, decorations, flammable materials or areas where children and pets may be standing or walking.
  • Stay in a group, walk slowly and communicate where you are going.
  • Only trick-or-treat in well known neighborhoods and at homes that have a porch light on.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and use the sidewalk when available.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk at the farthest edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, an adult
    should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Because a mask can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic and hypoallergenic makeup or
    a decorative hat as a safe alternative.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories; purchase only those with a label
    indicating they are flame resistant.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their guardians.
  • Plan ahead to use only battery powered lanterns or chemical light sticks in place of candles in
    decorations and costumes.
  • Take extra effort to eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway. Check around your property for flower pots, low tree limbs, support wires or garden hoses that may prove hazardous to young children rushing from house to house.
  • Consider fire safety when decorating. Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects, and do not block exit doors.

Our Risk Solutions team encourages you to put these practices into place–doing so helps ensure your safety. Halloween safety is no accident; be safe.

 

 

RECALL: Over 80,000 Units Affected

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently announced the recall of about 158,000 units of Honeywell Fibre-Metal E2 and North Peak A79 hard hats. They reported that these hats can fail to protect users from impact, posing a risk of head injury. The hard hats included in the recall may not provide the level of protection for which they were designed. However, no injuries have been reported.

The Fibre-Metal E2 hard hats have a manufacture date of April 2016, May 2016, December 2017, or January 2018. The North Peak A79 hard hats were manufactured from April 2016 through January 2018. Only North Peak A79 hard hats with mold identification number 4 are included on this recall. North by Honeywell, the mold identification number, and the manufacture date can be found on the underside of the hat’s brim. The date code is in a clock format: The numbers around the circle correspond to the 12 months of the year, the arrow points to the month of manufacture and the numbers on either side of the arrow represent the last two digits of the year.

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Multitasking is a Myth: Focus on the Road to Save Lives

Driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Distracted driving is a public health issue that affects us all. It is a major contributor to the 40,000 people who were killed on our nation’s roadways last year. However, each death is 100% preventable.

Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions, even if done for just one second, can endanger the lives of the driver and others.

Driving is a visual task and non-driving activities that draw the driver’s eyes away from the roadway should always be avoided. As of July 1, 2010, Michigan law prohibits texting while driving. Motorists can be fined between $100-$200 for offenses.

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Window Accident Prevention: How to Keep your Loved Ones Safe in your Home

As temperatures go up, so do windows in many homes. Opening windows in your home to enjoy the warmer temperatures may seem harmless, but open windows have proven to be sources of injury and death for young children. The first week of April was Window Safety Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness about the important role of windows in escaping a fire or other emergency, as well as educating parents and caregivers on how to prevent accidental window falls.

Many people don’t think about the threats windows pose to children, but the risk is very real. See the statistics below according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report:

falls from windows

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Prevent Cybersecurity Breaches | How to Keep your Business Information Secure

Cybersecurity DefinitionMost people see cybersecurity as something that only governments and large corporations need to worry about. For example, recent news stories have been highlighting cyber attacks on major entities such as Equifax and England’s National Health Service. However, businesses of all sizes are at risk of a cyber security breach.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 40% of cyber attacks target businesses with fewer than 500 employees. In addition, about one in five small and midsize businesses reported a cyber attack over a two-year period.  Computer crime has now bypassed illegal drugs as the country’s #1 criminal money-maker, making it in every business owner’s best interest to safeguard their organization as much as possible.

 

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A Quick Guide to Using our Brand-New App

Personal Lines Customers: We are excited to announce a new service to better support your needs with the Olivier-VanDyk Insurance App!

Our user-friendly app contains several features, including quick and easy ways to:

  • Obtain an auto insurance card
  • Review your policy information
  • Submit a change/start an auto claim
  • Communicate with your agent

 

App Store

 

 

You can find the mobile insured app by searching for “Olivier-VanDyk” in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, and downloading onto your mobile device (phone or tablet).

 

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