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.


  • 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.

Personal Insurance: Trends in Construction Costs


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.


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


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.