Commercial Equine Operation Insurance

By on August 16, 2021

Photo Credit: Crystal Lettinga

Commercial Equine Operation and Horse Business Insurance

Since we can’t predict how every horse will react in any given situation, we have coverage options that are available whether you are boarding, breeding, training or providing horseback riding instruction, including Therapeutic Riding. Even the best trained, gentlest horses can injure a rider, visitor or even damage someone’s property.  If you are found negligent, you may be responsible to pay a large monetary settlement.  Equine Liability Insurance can help protect you.  That is where we come in!

Customizable or Monoline Commercial Equine Liability

We work with companies that can customize horse business insurance policies to fit your needs, budget, and your business. One of our trusted insurance carriers, Markel, has designed coverages distinctly to help protect PATH members and their unique risks.

From farriers to horse shows to roping/penning team practices, we can cover your horse operation insurance needs. If you are a member of an accredited professional association, credits may be available to you!

Equine Business Claim example:

A group is on a trail ride, waivers have been signed, but one of the riders’ horses does not want to continue on and refuses to walk forward. The instructor tells the rider to dismount the horse, before the rider can do anything the horse starts to run and bucks the rider off causing injury. With a Markel Specialty horse business insurance policy the medical costs may be covered at no extra cost to you.

*This example is provided as an example of a potential incident. Any claim submitted is evaluated and subjective to the facts and terms of the equine operation insurance policy. Get a free quote today!

Photo Credit: Crystal Lettinga

Insurance for your Airbnb™, Vrbo™ or Vacation Rental Home

By on August 2, 2021

Short-term rentals have become extremely popular within the last few years. Booking a vacation home through Airbnb™, Vrbo™, or similar rental services is just as common and simplistic as a hotel stay! Short-term rentals are a great set-up for both guest and owner, although it takes more than just turning over the keys! Whether you are renting out your entire home or just one room, getting the right insurance to protect your space is more important than you may think!

It’s a hot summer day in Michigan (sounds impossible I know) and your second home just got booked for the weekend. Of course, as the owner of the property, you have high hopes that the renters will be respectful and contact you if there are any issues, however, this is not the case. After their stay, the renters leave and you enter, with no knowledge of damage, to find a hole in the bathroom door, several rips in the screen, and even fire damage in the kitchen. What do you do now?? That is where Short-Term Rental Insurance comes in and the importance of having the right coverage!

For short-term rental insurance for your Airbnb™, Vrbo™ or vacation rental house there are a few options that can provide you with the coverage that you need.

  1. Home Owners Insurance Policy
    • Insured/Owner uses the residence more than it is rented
    • Package of coverages: Includes the dwelling, in addition to its contents (furniture, etc.)

Your family owns a cottage in Northern Michigan that you take several trips to during the summer months! On the weeks you are unavailable to visit, you decide to rent out your home to others. You list it as a vacation rental on Airbnb™, Vrbo™, and proceed to schedule bookings opposingly to when you will stay. Although there are some rentals occurring at your cabin, it is mainly used as your seasonal home and may be covered under a Homeowners policy.

  1. Dwelling Fire Policy
    • Insured/Owner has little to no personal use of the property
    • Rented out a majority of the time
    • Individual coverages: A-La-Carte protection for buildings, personal property (contents), loss of rents, etc.

Your family purchases a second cottage in the same Northern Michigan town to create another vacation rental. Although, this home will mostly be used as a short-term rental and rarely by your family. This cabin would likely be better covered under a Dwelling-Fire policy.

It is always important to talk with an insurance agent to determine which policy best suits you and your short-term rental! Good communication allows them to fully understand your situation and place you with the correct coverages and company. Give our agency a call at 517-347-1466 to speak with a trusted agent and receive a quote for your vacation rental today!

By: Morgan Arnouts and Brandi Schonter

Barndominium Insurance

By on June 30, 2021

          The term “Barndominium” gained prominence from Season 3, Episode 6 of the “Fixer Upper” series. In said episode, they transformed a barn into a habitable home. However, while most think of Barndominiums as the conversion of a barn to a home, there is also new construction for Barndominiums. It is typically much cheaper to build a Barndominium than your typical home. This is a new trend which is starting to emerge in the rural/suburban-rural areas of Michigan.

          Many Barndominiums have a dual purpose, with the space being divided between living space and space for recreation. For example, the recreational space is perfect for the storage of vehicles, snowmobiles, boats, and ATVs, similar to a regular barn or garage purpose. Many have even utilized the recreational space for farm animals, like cows, horses, etc. Back in the 1980s, real estate developer, Karl Nilsen, actually planned communities around the theme of raising horses with these type of living structures.

          However, there are many potential hurdles with trying to insure a Barndominium. Examples of such are that some insurance companies may not write insurance for:

  • Non- “stick-built” homes
  • Farming related activities
  • Business ventures
  • Dual usage homes

Insurance companies may also have difficulty in the valuation of the home, whether Replacement Cost Value (RCV) or Actual Cash Value (ACV) should take place.

Speaking with your insurance agent is the first step to properly covering your Michigan Bardominium.

By: Mark Preston and James Arnouts

Wine Cellar Insurance – Why It Is Important

By on December 18, 2020

“You had me at Merlot: Insuring your Wine Collection & Wine Cellar 101”

In the chaos of this year 2020 there certainly are several reasons to go down to your wine cellar and uncork a rare bottle that you’ve been saving.  Maybe your collection is only a single rack of a rare Bordeaux or maybe you have an entire walk-in cellar with humidity and temperature controls to boot.

Imagine yourself walking down to your collection and opening the door with pride. You may be an elegant connoisseur but also you are a human and in my scenario you are looking down in horror as you accidentally dropped a $2,500 bottle of wine on the floor while also knocking over the rack behind you when trying to catch your clumsy blunder. Imagine watching your tears float away with the $30,000 worth of wine that’s now flooding your toes while you hop to safety.

Would you assume this is covered on your home policy? Would something like this even be possible to be covered on your home policy?

  • On average typical collectors will have between $100,000 to $200,000 worth of wine
  • That does not include the cellar which is another $50,000 to $100,000 on average
  • Estimates say that only 10% of wine collectors are covered for enough value and that’s if they have any coverage at all
  • Coverage for things like spoilage or malfunctioning temperature controls are normally not covered under a standard home policy. There may be some coverage for a fire, theft, or flood but more than likely it wouldn’t even put a dent in the actual cost of your collection.

The good news is that most companies have a good solution for this and we recommend that you contact your agent and ask them what they would recommend.  They may increase the dwelling amount on your house to cover the cellar or they may have a special product that deals with them separately.  For the wine coverage itself you can either put them on a “Blanket Policy” which means you would have an amount IE $100,000 and as it fluctuates if there is a total loss that is the amount that you are covered for or you can schedule separate bottles individually for things like breakage and spoiling.

Some companies may ask for a list of everything you have and some companies may want to come out and assess the cellar themselves but with a little legwork you can be confident that when those awful catastrophes happen you can be whole again.

Brad Manzullo

The Importance of Covering Personal Valuables on Your Home Insurance

By on November 25, 2020

Protecting what you love most, a brief guide on scheduling items on your home policy:

Scheduled personal property coverage is an optional endorsement you can use when the personal items exceed the personal property limits on a standard home policy. This of course leads to the common question “What personal items are limited on my home policy and do I have enough coverage?”

Right now for a lot of people with home insurance the answer is a “a lot of them” and “probably not” Standard home insurance set limits on how much the insurance company will pay out for specific types of property under “coverage C” in your policy. Below are a few of the things we generally see limited…

  • Jewelry/Watches
  • Small watercraft
  • Firearms/Guns
  • Stamps
  • Coins
  • Comics & or Sports Memorabilia
  • Silver Collections & sets
  • Musical Instruments
  • Electronics

It’s not difficult to schedule items but you may need to do a little legwork in getting an appraisal or making an inventory list with values per item. Learn more about our home insurance options and carriers here. Or call your agent and ask!

Some of the main benefits we see among companies with scheduling are listed below…

  • All Peril Coverage If you were to wake up one morning and your wedding ring was missing from your finger would you think to call your agent? You should because with all peril coverage and scheduling your items you may be covered for a “Mysterious Disappearance” claim.
  • No Deductible You can choose the deductible for each item separate from the home deductible including $0
  • Replacement Cost The biggest benefit and reason for our blog post is to actually get the accurate value for your items in the event of a claim.  An example I like to use is if you are an avid comic collector and due to a claim you lose part of your collection, under standard home policy they will only reimburse you for a comic book at comic book prices today because the vintage value is typically not factored in.

In a few weeks there will be an in depth post about insuring your firearms and hunting gear properly for on and off the property.  Stay tuned!

  • Brad Manzullo

Preparing your vehicle for the winter driving season in Michigan

By on October 19, 2020

In Michigan, winter is never far away. We are either in the 5 to 6 months of winter weather, or we are getting prepared for it! Snow and icy and conditions can easily start occuring in October (there were just ice problems on I-75 in Northern Michigan October 16th!) as long into late April.

As another season of winter driving hits, it is important to make sure your car or truck is ready. A few tips:

  1. Tires. Check your tires. These are your most important tools for you to grip and use the road in snow and icy conditions. Make sure your tread is in good shape and take note of the wear. While most tires have a mileage recommendation, all age different. While they are expensive, if your tires are in need of replacing before the winter hits, replace them! This cost is easier than the cost of having a car accident or have to file an auto insurance claim.
  2. Windshield wipers. Are you windshield wipers in good condition to wipe away snow and ice? Make sure these are performing adequately, otherwise visibility can be an issue.
  3. Headlights, taillights bright beams. You probably are going to notice if you have a headlight out if you have been driving at night. But be sure to check them as well as your taillights. Remember how critical your taillights can be for the car behind you while driving at night in poor, snowy visibility. Another tip, if you are driving in heavy snow, actually use your low beams for better visibility.
  4. Your heater. If you haven’t had to run your heater yet, do so! There is nothing worse than having the first real cold day of the season to discover that your heater or defrost system is not working.
  5. In-car preparations. When driving in the winter, prepare for the worst, including the possibility of getting stuck. Make sure that you have flares, a blank, some bottled water and even some snacks while you wait for a tow truck.
  6. Battery. Battery life is critical in the winter time. Cold weather depletes batteries. Makes sure your battery is a full power and capacity before the winter weather hits.

Whether you live in Marquette or Lansing, all of us in Michigan have to deal with winter driving. Be sure to follow these steps to do it safely and responsibly. Safe driving!

Tips on Opening Your Cottage or Lake Home for Spring

By on March 24, 2020

As dreary as the world is right now in the midst of our current COVID-19 crisis and our cold spring weather, we know that these days shall pass. And once they do, it will hopefully mean time to get back to a normal way of life in Michigan. Part of this means the spring rite of passage of opening up our season lake home, cottage or cabin for a summer of enjoyment if you are fortunate to have one.

A couple of years ago we reviewed some tips for closing down and winterizing your cottage. Let’s go over some timely items for opening it back up.

First, your water. With luck and proper care, you didn’t have any plumbing issues over the winter months. If you drained the water out of your cottage, you should not have encountered any problems. But these things can still happen, it is difficult to always fully drain lines if you didn’t use an air compressor to blow them out. Now, turning your water back on is as easy as switching the water pump to “on” on your breaker. Keep in mind if you have any faucets wide open when you drained, if they are still wide open they may spew brown water as water circulates through your pipes for the first time. A tip – bring some toliet bowl cleaner, as new water and antifreeze can leave a black residue in your toliet bowls for the first few flushes.

Second, and this is very important – DO NOT turn your water heater on right away. Your water heater will initially be empty as you drained it in the fall. If you flip it on in your breaker box right away, you can burn up the element in the water heater as it is dry. Wait at least 20 to 30 minutes after turning your water breaker on before turning on your water heater. (this is a good time to turn the water on and go outside to enjoy the fresh air or view of the lake and have a beverage before you turn your water heater on!)

Next, an exterior visual inspection. How did your roof hold up with the snowfall? If you have a metal roof, do all of your sections look intact. If you have shingles, how weathered do they look. Did you lose any shingles? Was there any ice buildup that sheered off gutters? Also, how did your siding or logs making it through the winter? Within this, check all of your windows for any damage or flexing.

Check your chimney and or the furnace outlet that you have. Make sure there isn’t any blockage in any PVC furnace exhaust pipes and make sure the exterior of your fireplace or woodstove chimneys are intact before you build a fire or start your furnace. You may also want to have your wood stove or fireplace chimney professionally cleaned or inspected.

Finally, if you have rain gutters, be sure to make sure they didn’t suffer any damage from wind or ice. Ice can build up in gutters over the winter, which can lead to backups and leaks during spring thaws.

If you have a sump pump, be sure to check that this is working properly as well. Spring in Northern Michigan means snowmelt and rain, which can mean a full water table in the ground. A properly functioning sump pump is important. Installing a battery sump pump in case of failure or a power outage can be good piece of mind as well.

Finally, check your cabinets, especially in the kitchen. Hopefully, you took care of your food and didn’t have any unwanted rodent visitors. If so, get some mouse traps set or call a professional rodent control expert.

Hopefully with good shut down maintenance in the Fall, you will be dealing with minimal issues in the spring as you look forward to a fun season of up-north enjoyment.

Michigan No Fault Changes For Your Auto Insurance Policy

By on September 13, 2019

Effective June 11, 2019,

When no-fault reform was signed into law, the Order of Priority for PIP claims has changed. In addition, claims sent to the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP) no longer have unlimited PIP. An injured person now collects PIP benefits in the following order.

  1. Insurer of the Named Insured
  2. Insurer of the Spouse or Resident-Relative; then
  3. Injured Person applies for benefits through the MACP ($250,000 benefit level)

In a nutshell, no longer does the coverage extend to the named insured’s non-relatives who live in the household or to relatives who do not reside in the household, even if listed as drivers. Examples: · Children/adults who are using a vehicle titled in your name but have established residency elsewhere. This could be a college student away at school, a college student who has established residency different than yours, or a young adult who took a new job in a different city. · Living with someone (who is not a spouse or relative) who does not have his/her own insurance, but drives a vehicle titled in your name. This could be a significant other who drives your car, but doesn’t have his or her own auto policy.

If you think either of these situations or another unique situation might apply to you, please contact our office as soon as possible at 517-347-1466.

  • Do you have children who are using a vehicle titled in your name, but have established residency elsewhere?
  • Do you live with someone (who is not a spouse or relative) who does not have his or her own insurance, but drives a vehicle titled in your name?

Tips On Preparing Your Cottage For Winter

By on November 2, 2018

As much as we enjoy summers and early fall in Michigan, the reality is that winter is always coming. For most cottage owners across Michigan, we take the fall as a time to enjoy the fall colors and fall activities, but also it is time to close things up.  It is important to take care of things around your cottage so that you don’t arrive in the spring to any unwanted surprised.  A few tips:

Water and Plumbing

Without question, the most important thing to take care of is your water and plumbing situation. Frozen pipes will burst and can create an incredible amount of damage without you knowing about it for weeks and months.  Be sure to shut your main water supply off where it comes into your cottage.  Also be sure to drain all of the water of your pipes. Putting antifreeze in your drain traps is a good idea as well. Keeping your heat on low all winter? Fine, but be sure to still shut your water off.  This way even if there is a plumbing issue, the water won’t just keep gushing.  A tip if you are not completely draining your cottage – open up the cabinets underneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks so that they get exposed to warmer air.


If your cottage has gutters, be sure to clean out leaves and pine needles at the end of Fall. Packed gutters can lead to ice jams and water leaks, in addition to gutter damage. If you have a cottage in Northern Michigan, make sure to clean out any pine needles or pine cones that may wreak havoc.


Be sure to take any open or unsealed food with you. Mice and rodents tend to move inside when the weather turns. Don’t give them a reason to pick the kitchen cabinets of your cottage and do damage! Also, check your fridge one more time and be sure there isn’t anything in it that may spoil over the winter.

Snow Removal

Many locations around Northern Michigan have year-round residents that plow during the winter months. Having someone come to plow your driveway on a regular basis is helpful so that snow isn’t a hassle when you do want to come up north for that ski weekend. However, it also helps because it gives off the impression to possible burglars that someone is going in and out of the cottage on a normal basis, helping deter any trouble.

Roof Checks

Along the lines of snow removal, it is worth the investment to pay someone to check on the snow of the roof all winter. Snowfall in Northern Michigan is measured in feet, not inches. If your roof doesn’t have a steep pitch, snow can pack on and become very heavy. This can cause leaks, ice jams and possibly even a roof collapse. Be sure that you can have your cottage checked on so that you know if you should get your roof cleared off.

Following these simple steps will help keep your cottage free from damage this winter and help in it be ready for you to successfully open it come spring!




The Basics of Bicycle Insurance

By on October 11, 2018

A lot of us don’t hesitate to spend what is needed to protect our bikes: locks, bolts, cables. We’ve all learned, some of us the hard way, how to lock up properly. But how about bicycle theft insurance? Or bicycle damage or loss insurance?  Do you have it, and is it worth it?  There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what coverage is available and what coverage is worthwhile. For the price of one fancy dinner date you can likely insure your bike for the year.



Types of Coverages

Renter’s insurance is likely the most well-known.  It covers all your stuff in a disaster, such as fire as well as out on the street. If your apartment is burglarized, or your cable lock cut, renter’s insurance should pay out for a replacement bike. Homeowner’s insurance works the same but usually has a higher deductible.  Like all insurance, every claim has the potential to raise your rates. While claiming inexpensive damage or theft may result in a payout from your provider, it might also raise your premiums. That rate hike could be more costly than the original claim is worth. For that reason here are insurance options for your bike only to be specifically listed on your policy with it’s own separate deductible. You pick how much coverage you need for your bicycle and the accessories. Bicycle then and damage insurance plans from Auto-Owners Insurance.  You can expect to spend 5 minutes or less providing some info to get a rough price. Most people are very surprised at the affordability of having your bike scheduled on your policy.