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.

Welcome to Arnout’s Insurance Blog!

By on July 5, 2018

Welcome to Arnout’s Insurance Blog!  You might be asking yourself…”So, what exactly is this blog going to be about?” Don’t worry we won’t bore you with lengthy descriptions of insurance coverage and contract language. There are plenty of other places that you can get that kind of information if you want it. We know that insurance isn’t a ground breaking topic for most people, but everyone wants to be covered if something happens.

This blog is a place where we’ll highlight interesting and useful information about how insurance connects with your life…whether it’s personal insurance, business insurance, or even insurance for your furry friends. We want to make insurance simple and to offer honest guidance from real people to help you make better decisions about auto, home, business, life, and health insurance. We’ll share insights on protection issues, provide updates, and dispel common misconceptions. Our goal is to keep it fresh, relevant, and most importantly consistently updated.

What separates us from other insurance providers is our knowledgeable, committed and caring team. Hopefully, you’ll get a better sense of the people that make up Arnouts Insurance Agency as you read posts sharing ideas and opinions from different members of our staff. To mix it up, we may even have guest bloggers from time to time.

One thing we often say here at the agency is that “for us, business is always personal”. It’s about having conversations and creating relationships. Your comments and opinions are important to us, and we hope that you’ll share them. Just be sure to protect your privacy and don’t share detailed personal information on our blog.  Also, keep in mind that our blog isn’t intended to offer specific advice about your individual insurance needs.

We’re excited about this new endeavor and look forward to connecting with you and providing a different view of Arnouts Insurance.

So…stay tuned.