9 Ways To Become A Safer Michiana Winter Driver

Before Thanksgiving Day 2015, we had 7 inches of snow dumped on the ground within the Michiana Region, and with the snow fall came weather related accidents.

According to the Elkhart Truth, Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department responded to more than 20 accidents on Saturday, Nov 22, 2015 — including two with multiple injuries.

Looking back in time, who can forget the multiple car crash pile-up on January 9, 2015, which blocked the toll road from Laporte, Indiana to South Bend, Indiana?

Tip #1: Slow down – If you live in Shipshewana or Nappanee, Indiana this probably does not apply to you, because most likely you are stuck behind an Amish buggy.

For everyone else in the Michiana region please use common sense, and slow down.

As you watch the compilation video of winter crashes to the left, you’ll notice one common factor each accident shares…

… every driver seems to be driving the vehicle at the posted speed limit, and possibly even 5 miles per hour over the limit.

The Michigan Department of Transportation [MDOT] urges MI drivers visiting its website to:

Slow down when visibility is low and/or when road conditions are snowy or icy – in Ice and Snow Take it Slow!


How slow? Most experts recommend at least 10 miles per hour slower than the regular posted limit.

Why slow down so much? Because, everything takes longer on snow-covered roads.

Accelerating, stopping, turning – none of these things happen as quickly as they do on dry pavement.

So, slow down and give yourself time to maneuver your car by driving slowly.

AAA Exchange recommends you also,

Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

Tip #2: Inspect your tires

You have a conundrum.

On the one hand you want to get the most out of your tires—maximum mileage, safety and wear.

On the other hand, if you wear down your tires too much they are not going to be safe.

This is especially true during poor Michiana winter driving conditions.

So, in addition to inspecting your tires, you’ll need to properly maintain them too. But don’t worry. It’s not as complicated as sounds.

In fact, Michelin offers a nice guide on what to look for when inspecting your tires.

Tip #3: Test your wipers

We all know the importance of our windshield wipers and how being about to see is critical for safe driving in any environment.

The problem, especially in Winter is that we wait until the wipers are leaving behind a trail of water, making the window blurry, and/or creating an annoying squeaky sounds, before we change them.

Safer Michiana Winter Driver
Image Source: RainX

However, according to an article by AutoWeek, “there’s more to buying wipers than simply walking into an auto-parts store, finding a set of blades that fit and swapping them for your old pair.”

Remembering to maintain wiper blades regularly can maximize visibility, efficiency and reliability.

Wiper blades deteriorate due to many environmental factors including:

  • Sun: Ultraviolet light and ozone deterioration
  • Oil: Car waxes and exhaust hold rubber-deteriorating oil
  • Airborne debris: Sand, mud and dust carried in the wind
  • Moisture: Acid rain and salt water (in moist air both near the shore and inland)

Remember, wiper blades should be checked every six months and changed at least once a year. Evaluate both the rubber squeegee and the metal frames to avoid common problems such as streaking, skipping, chattering, wearing and splitting – all offenders of reduced visibility and slowed reaction time while driving.

While inspecting, and possibly replacing your windshield wipers, top off your wiper fluid reservoir .

In winter we recommend upgrading to a “de-icer windshield washer fluid”, so you do not have to worry about freezing the windshield while trying to keep it clean.

This is because, winter fluid has a lower freeze point and serves as a better deicer

Tip #4: Review your car’s maintenance schedule

Every car manufacturer provides a maintenance schedule within the Owner’s Manual. It is wise to check it out and make certain everything is up to date, before bigger snow falls and lake effect snow conditions arrive in January, February, and March.

According to Edmunds, “the car’s service manual is the best way to learn how to maintain your car. It was written by the factory representatives who designed and built the car. It stands to reason that they should also know how best to keep everything running smoothly.”

In addition to being a safety protocol, Brian Alexander suggests on Driverside.com that …

Regular maintenance will ensure your vehicle remains as problem-free as possible and help retain its resale value.

Tip #5: Test your battery

Car battery are more susceptible to dying to cooler winter.In fact according to Intersate Battery, “your vehicle’s battery loses 33 percent of its power when the temperature dips below freezing, and over 50 percent of its power when the temperature falls below zero.”

Real damage can result when a depleted battery’s electrolyte meets freezing temps, cracking the internals and case.

According to Road and Truck Magazine, proper battery storage with a charger avoids this problems.

Sometimes so is more cost effective this buying a new battery each year. So, be sure to test your battery. And, replace if necessary.

Tip #6: Check your coolant

The last thing you want happening on a snowy road is over heating your  engine and having a thermostat lock-up on you.

Your anti-freeze coolant helps prevent this.

Tip #7 Inflate your tires

You might even consider buying winter tires.

Even if you have ABS brakes which prevents “locking-up” the brakes by “pulsing” them as you apply pressure to the pedal.

Remember that the tires on your vehicle supply the traction and help the ABS deliver faster stops. Tires built with better winter traction will improve overall braking performance on ice, snow, and cold roads.

Winter tires have special rubber compounds designed to improve traction, handling and braking in all cold weather conditions, not just ice and snow.

Tips #8 Consider an overall check-up

Having your vehicle inspected by a professional is important.

Tip #9 Have an emergency kit

Even the most carefully driver still occasionally find themselves in emergency situations.

Tip #10 Lower the radio

It sounds crazy, but, your brain will actually concentrate better if you do.

Tip #11 Avoid conversations

While talking to a passenger, or via bluetooth is not against the law, it can still lead to distracted driving.

Tip #12 Have your insurance agents number handy

Okay a cheap plug here, but, even though only one  insurance agency has the slogan “like a neighbor neighbor … blank – blank … in there”, most insurance agents are here to help you. So, put your agents number in your phone, but, also in your wallet in case your phone is not able to work properly from the location you are calling.

Bonus Tip of Commercial Truck and School Bus Drivers

Make sure your mechanic, or MRO inspect is checking the lug nuts and frame U-bolts on your vehicle with a calibrated torque wrench to ensure proper tightening.



Commercial property insurance for real estate owners and managers

Whether you are the equity owner of a commercial office building or the property manager of a fitness center where equipment damage and onsite employee injuries can commonly occur, you need to do more than knock on wood.

Commercial Property Insurance You Can Trust

You need to be certain you have the commercial property insurance coverage that will protect and assist with any loses that occur.

There are many other risks, such as when a fire, theft or another type of disaster strikes your commercial business, and its people.

While protection is important to you, you still want a business insurance policy at a reasonable price, and a commercial insurance agent that well sit down and assist you in creating a plan to make sure your business needs are covered when the inevitable occasionally happens.

Broad Insurance Protection

Commercial property insurance can help protect the property your business owns and leases, including things like medical equipment, inventory, furniture and fixtures.

It also help cover the things you might not think of, like protection for your accounts receivable records and or computers and media. There is even an option that can help replace lost income when your operations are suspended and can no longer operate due to a covered loss.

Customized Commercial Business Insurance Coverages

Unlike the traditional business insurance agencies that only offer you one insurance provider’s options, we at Mahar Insurance agency broker various brands and types of commercial property insurance.

The result, we can custom tailor the coverage options of all of them to ensure we deliver the business property insurance policies that is a perfect fit for you and your business.

Best of all, we only work with the commercial business insurance providers that make buying and filing a business property insurance claim fast and simple.

In addition to Business Property Insurance consider these coverage options:

  • Business Income

This coverage allows you to continue to receive income while your property and its contents are being rebuilt and replaced. Business income not only helps you cover operating expenses needed to keep a business going after a loss, but it also could replace lost rents.

  • Tenant Move Back Coverage

Tenants Move-Back covers costs for tenants to return to your property after being temporarily relocated if a fire, windstorm or other hazard damages or destroys your Commercial Real Estate property.

  • Buildings – Replacement Cost

Building Ordinance Coverage covers the increased cost to comply with a building ordinance or law when you repair or remodel the building after a natural disaster or other catastrophe.


A few Commercial Business Insurance Providers We Carry

  • Travelers

While we have several commercial property insurance provider options for you, one of the companies we most enjoy working with is Travelers.

This is because, in and around the Michiana area, there are a lot of unique and niche businesses and manufacturers.

Travelers truly understands the unique needs of specialized industries.

Travelers offers a commercial business property insurance package called “IndustryEdge®“, which is specially design to meet the need of commercial real estate owners, as well as, business / property managers.

IndustryEdge® delivers industry-specific underwriting, risk control analysis and claim service tailored to the nuances of today’s real estate industry.

Again, this commercial property insurance is designed to meet the specialized insurance needs of direct owners of real property as well as firms that manage the property of others.

Target properties include:

  • Industrial buildings
  • Office buildings
  • Shopping centers & malls

And, to minimize risk further – Travelers offers specialized loss prevention and claims services to further enhance their abilities to provide expert business insurance coverage.

What about global businesses, according to Federico Petersen, President of Petersen International Consulting, 62% of the businesses that conduct global transaction in Indiana and Michigan do not have adequate commercial property insurance.

If your business requires international travel, or transports and/or engages in commerce of any kind overseas, Travelers Insurance offers coverage options available to address these exposures.

Protecting and Supporting Michigan and Indiana Businesses

Every year Mahar Insurance helps guide business owners, and their managers in finding the right commercial insurance coverage, building the perfect business insurance policy, and doing it all at a great price.

Here are a few of the types of businesses we gladly serve:

Office Professionals / Business Office Insurance

  • Accounting Services
  • Advertising Agencies
  • Attorneys
  • Consultants
  • Financial Consultants or Planners
  • Graphic Artists/Designers/Illustrators
  • Insurance Agents
  • Messaging/Communication Services
  • Real Estate Appraisers
  • Tax Return Preparation
  • Transcription/Translation/Interpreter Service
  • Travel Agencies (not conducting tours)

Food Shops and Stores

  • Bakeries – Retail
  • Meat – Seafood Markets
  • Candy & Confectionery Store
  • Specialty Food Shops
  • Coffee & Tea Stores
  • Delicatessen
  • Donut Shop/Bagel Shop
  • Ice Cream/Yogurt/Juice Stores

Medical Office Professionals

  • Acupuncturists
  • Chiropractors
  • Dentists
  • Massage Therapist/Acupressure/Reflexology
  • Optometrists
  • Physicians
  • Physical/Occupational Therapists
  • Podiatrists
  • Psychologists – Mental Health Counseling

Personal Services

  • Barber Shop, Beauty Salons and Day Spas
  • Cosmetic Stores


  • Art & Craft Supplies Stores
  • Bicycle Sales & Service
  • Book Stores and Newsstands
  • Bridal Shops
  • Camera Store
  • Ceramic & Pottery Dealers
  • CD/DVD/Videotapes – Rentals and Sales Only
  • Clothing Store
  • Fabric Stores
  • Formal Wear-Rental
  • Gift, Card & Stationery Stores
  • Hearing Aid Stores
  • Hobby, Trophy & Framing Stores
  • Leather Goods stores (excluding coats)
  • Novelties & Costume Jewelry
  • Opticians
  • Shoe Stores
  • Sporting Goods Stores
  • Toy Stores


  • Appliances and Accessories – Installation, Service, or Repair – Residential, Light Commercial
  • Carpet, Rug, Furniture, or Upholstery Cleaning – On Customers’ Premises
  • Electrical Work – Within Buildings – Residential, Light Commercial
  • Fence Erection Contractors
  • Furniture or Fixtures – Installation, Service or Repair – Residential, Light Commercial
  • Heating or Combined Heating and Air Conditioning Systems or Equipment
  • Interior Decorator – Includes Home Staging
  • Painting Contractors – Residential, Light Commercial
  • Paperhanging
  • Plumbing – Residential, Light Commercial


Cyber Insurance : What Michigan Businesses Should Know

As people become more reliant on electronic communication, and as businesses collect and maintain ever more granular pieces of information on their customers, the opportunity for bad actors to cause difficulties for businesses and the public is exploding.

Yesterday the Identify Theft Resource Center, released its Annual 2015 Data Breach Summary. See full report here >>>

According to this latest report, over 16 million personal records have been access via cyber attacks on businesses.

Many of these businesses are small and surprisingly do not have eCommerce sites.

Cyber attack Insurance for SMB

In fact, earlier this month, Sucuri warned of an increase in Brute Force attacks on the most popular website CMS platform, WordPress.

A brute force attack is simply a script trying to log in to a site using known popular user names and passwords.

The user name “admin” is the primary target and many CMS users are aware that they should never use “admin” as a user name.

However, WordPress is not alone, according to DIR Incorporated, a Michiana web marketing company:

Sites like Drupal, Joomla, and even so-call “custom web platforms” face brute force attacks on a daily based via protocols and multiple login attempt hacking software.

An infographic titled, SME’s and Cyber Attacks – What You Need To Know recently highlighted the following:

Small Business Insurance Cass County Michigan

In the last few years, we got used to seeing retail giants like Target and eCommerce leaders like eBay face cyber attack vulnerability.

Yet, we seldom worry about cyber attacks on small businesses.

The reality is that just about any organization that uses technology to do business faces cyber threats.

And as technology becomes more complex and sophisticated, so do the risk that confront small businesses – which is why every business and organization needs to be prepared with cyber liability insurance.

Of course, since Mahar Insurance primarily serves small businesses in Michigan, we titled this post with the states name in it.

In the July 28, 2015 issue of Business News Daily,

Stephen Cobb, a senior security research at antivirus software company ESET, said that:
… small businesses fall into hackers’ cybersecurity “sweet spot”: They have more digital assets to target than an individual consumer has, but less security than a larger enterprise.

Recently, Donna, owner of Curvy Girls are Chic replied to a Wordfence blog post with the following statement:

… I am so shocked by this [brute force attacks on her site]… I have a darn sewing blog. What do they possibly want with my site! …


This leads to the question, “how can small businesses do a better job to protect themselves against, and manage the risks related to a data breach and reduce the significant cost that can result from a cyber attack?

Two of the simplest and most cost-effective options are website plugins and Cyber Insurance.

Improving Your Small Business Website Secure

According to DIR Incorporated;

“for owners of WordPress sites, plugins like Wordfence, Jetpack, and bruteprotect are all design to help security small business websites for free.”

There are similar plugin are available for other open-secure CMS.

To find them, simply conduct a Google search.

For example, as seen on the screenshot below, over 189,000 search results are available for the query “Brute Force Plugin Joomla”.

Cyber Insurance Joomla Brute Force Attack

Sadly, brute force attack are just one of the six most common types of cyber attack risks to small businesses.

  • APT: Advanced persistent threats, or APTs, are long-term targeted attacks that break into a network in multiple phases to avoid detection.
  • DDoS: An acronym for distributed denial of service, DDoS attacks occur when a server is intentionally overloaded with requests, with the goal of shutting down the target’s website or network system.
  • Inside attack: For this type of cyberattack, a sophisticated software program may not even be required: Someone with administrative privileges, usually from within the organization, purposely misuses his or her credentials to gain access to confidential company information.
  • Malware: This umbrella term is a portmanteau of “malicious software,” and covers any program introduced into the target’s computer with the intent to cause damage or gain unauthorized access.
  • Password attacks: Cracking a password is the simplest way for hackers to gain access to their target’s accounts and databases.
  • Phishing: Perhaps the most commonly deployed form of cybertheft, phishing involves collecting sensitive information like login credentials and credit card information through a legitimate-looking (but ultimately fraudulent) website, often sent to unsuspecting individuals in an email.

Getting Cyber Insurance To Minimize Hacking Risks.

On Your SMB Across the country attorneys, and the American Bar Association consider Cyber Insurance as a critical coverage for for small businesses.

In fact, they have even titled one of their webpages; Guide to Cyber Coverage.

While the Guide acknowledges the active market for Cyber Attack Insurance, that comprehensive coverage is available, and that coverage changes constantly, the article claims that no one understands the coverage.

While cyber exposures are relatively new and tend to change rapidly, at Mahar Insurance of Dowagiac, Michigan, we partner with several insurance providers to help simplify the Cyber Insurance buying process.

For example, Travelers Insurance several solutions for different SMB situations.

Travelers Insurance - Cyber Risk Insurance - Mahar Insurance Agency - Cass County Michigan

Cyber policies cover a wide range of exposures, involve multiple lines of coverage, and are evolving.  The market is responding to very creative criminals who have been quite successful in finding ways around most IT security measures.

Exposures are varied and go well beyond the basic costs associated with a breach of credit card information, so policies must incorporate a range of coverages to provide the protection that most organizations need.

And the reasonable level of risk management measures required frequently change as well. This doesn’t mean that Cyber Risk policies cover everything – they do not.

Underwriters must constantly balance their underwriting requirements, primarily information and expected client security measures, with client coverage needs.

However, underwriters in some cases have gone too far in trying to eliminate losses.

Long applications for cyber risk insurance with detailed technical technology questions are still common even though they are not applicable to most small and mid-sized companies.

And laser exclusions used by some underwriters, while effective in removing difficult exposures from coverage, create more challenge for customers and brokers.  Bottom line, the market is working well as the exposures evolve and underwriters respond.

For many insurers and brokers, the technicalities of information security and the details of how to deal with a data breach are still a mystery. The market for cyber liability products is also in its infancy, so be prepared to work with your provider to ensure that you get what you actually require.

A good starting point is to determine what costs or expenses you would like to have covered and what types of incidents you want cover for. Circulate and discuss this list with all the relevant people, not forgetting to get all the information you need from third-party suppliers and partners. List both your own costs (known as first-party costs) and the costs that others may attempt to claim from you as a result of the incident (known as third-party costs).

Getting the right broker is important. A good specialist broker will save you time in determining what is right for your business, remembering that this may not be the broker you are currently using for your non-cyber risks. Share your list of estimated expenses and costs with your broker and talk through the different exclusions that might stop you from making a claim.

Computer Weekly Magazine, Sarb Sembhi, July 2013

For now, Cyber Insurance is optional … but the day is coming when as a small business having Cyber Insurance might simply no longer be an option.

Get Identity Thief Prevention and Correction Defense.

Services like Lifelock™ and Credit Report monitoring services are great at identifying potential breaches of your identification.

However, ID Shield helps detect, prevent, and in case of ID thief — restore your identity.

Best of all, it not only delivers more services, it cost less over 25% less than Lifelock™ — Check it out >>>


The Difference Between Business Insurance and Bonds

Like you — most entrepreneurs in Southern Michigan, and the Michiana region who are launching or, in company expansion mode tend to begin their business insurance research by asking, “what types of protection exist for a business, and which ones do I need”

Your research into securing your company assets and building safeguards around your business leads to you learning about business insurance and bonds.

This new found information prompts another question — “Do I get bonded and/or insured?”

Perhaps you have the same types of questions.

To make the best business decision, you are going to need to understand that while insurance and bonds are both designed to protect your company against loss, there are some major apple-to-apple differences.

Business Insurance Versus Bonds

On the surface it is easy to see why you and other business owners often get confused when trying to differentiate between bonds and liability insurance.

I assure you they each have glaring major differences.

Here’s a scenario, that I hope makes it crystal clear:

When you purchase an insurance policy, you are protecting yourself against a loss.

When you purchase a bond, you are protecting someone other than yourself, or promising to make payment against a loss.

Sound confusing?

Let me provide a couple of examples.

If you buy a business liability policy, one of the purposes is to protect yourself against someone stealing your possessions.

If you are burglarized, you file a claim and the policy reimburses you for the cost to replace the stolen property.

Now, say you hire an IT company to service your computer network. Hopefully the internet technology company is bonded.

This way, if one of their employee decided to steals from you, you could be reimbursed from the IT company’s bonding company.

After you are paid for your stolen items by the bonding company, another difference between insurance and bonds surfaces.

The bond holder – [in the scenario the IT Company owner] – is still responsible for repayment of the damages to the bonding company.

That right the bonding company will expect full repayment of any monies they pay out on the IT Company’s behalf.

Therefore, the IT Company is going to be more selective in their hiring process to minimize the risk — which in and of itself, is an extra layer of protection for your business as well.

But, there is more … since the bonding company will want to collect on the money they have paid out in a claim, the IT Company owner will need to qualify for a bond … qualifying is not required with insurance.

Depending on the type of bond you are seeking out, a good personal credit record and proof of assets may be required.

Fortunately, as a Cass County insurance brokerage firm, Mahar Insurance Agency has a large selection of bond from multiple companies, and some are much easier to qualify for than others.

So, to recap here are some major differences between Insurance and Bonds :

1. The Contract

Insurance: a form of risk management.

It is a 2-party contract between the insured and the insurance company.

This contract (insurance policy) assumes a guaranteed promise that the insured (your business) will be compensated by the insurance company in the event of a covered business loss.

Surety bond: a contract among at least 3 parties.

It is issued by one party (the surety) on behalf of a second party (the principal).

NOTE: The principal can be a service provider to your business. Or, it could be you if you are providing the service to another business.

This contract guarantees that the second party will complete an obligation to a third party (obligee).

If the obligation is not met, the third party can recover its losses from that bond.

2. Protection

Insurance: Protects the insured against a risk.

Surety Bond: Protects the obligee.

3. The Premium

Insurance: The premium paid is designed to cover the potential losses.

Surety Bond: The premium paid is for the guarantee the principal fulfills his obligation.

4. Losses

Insurance: Losses are expected and insurance rates are adjusted to cover losses depending on many factors.

Surety Bond: Losses are not expected so surety bonds are issued only to qualified individuals or businesses whose projects require a guarantee.

5. Claims

Insurance: When a claim is paid the insurance company usually doesn’t expect to be repaid by the insured.

Surety Bond: A surety bond is a form of credit, so the principal is responsible to pay any claims.

Here’s a visual of the difference between business insurance and bonds :

Business Insurance and Bonds



Now, that you have a better understanding of the differences between business insurance and bonds, feel free to contact Mahar Insurance Agency to see a wide array to offerings from several insurance providers.

When you do, one thing you’ll discover is that there are many types of surety bonds, difference between surety bonds and fidelity bonds , and even times to consider using a surety bond versus a letter of credit in a business deal.

We will cover these things in future posts.

Also, feel free to leave comment, share ideas, and use the comment form to questions.

How Obeying Speed Limits Impact Cass County Insurance Rates

To car insurance companies, a speeding ticket can be a sign that you’re a riskier driver with a higher chance of getting into an accident.

But, not all speeding tickets are created equal.

The Purpose of  Speed Limits

While the purpose of speed limits within Cass County, Michigan and everywhere else for that matter, is to increase safest for all pedestrians, wildlife, and drivers, obeying the speed limit can have several other side benefits.

The Benefit of Fuel Economy

The most notable is that while every type of vehicle on the road reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), the gas mileage of most automobiles usually decreases rapidly at a range of speed above 50 miles per hour.

According to the Henshen Oil website, “you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.18 per gallon for gas.”

Every auto will vary substantially in design. This is especially true in the way vehicles manage energy usage.

Said another way, the tricks and tips that apply to one vehicle brand or model may not apply to another model even of the same brand.

The manufacturer knows the design capabilities best, and therefore is able to help you operate and maintain your auto to maximize fuel economy, driving range, and battery life. Typically, all these details are in your owner’s manual.

The Benefit of Lower Insurance Rates

As an insurance brokerage agency serving Cass County, Michigan it has been Mahar Insurance’s observation that while many varying factors impact insurance rate quotes from age and gender, to vehicle type and vehicle color, the most important is driving record and driving history.

All other things being equal — having a proven history of obeying the speed limits of Cass County and other places will typically result in the lowest possible insurance premiums for our Dowagiac, Michigan insurance clients.

In fact, a historically clean driving record — also helps keep auto insurance rates in check when [or if] you do get a ticket, or need to make a claim for the first-time.

If you would like a quote, or have questions about your Cass County Insurance Rates, please contact us.

Back To School Reminds Us There’s No Place Like Home

As the old saying goes, “There is no place like home”. Having a child in pre-school and kindergarten is exciting, and yet very different.

Jay, the pre-schooler, loves attending and learning while fully knowing that in a few hours mom and/or dad is going to pick him up and take him home to play with dinosaurs.

Jean, the kindergartner, loves making new friends and learning new things as well, but in her case the bus picks her up.
Fortunately for her, she live in a sub-division where the bus literally stops in front of her house. So when she sees her princess curtains adorning the upstairs window in her room she lights up knowing she is home.

For us parents it is no different. We wonder what their day is like, whether lunch was adequate enough, and if work is being completed accurately and on-time, and most importantly … are they safe.

And, we do not know any of this information until they are home.

Home provides us with a sense of security.

There is no other place that gives such a great sense of safety.

Yet, the security of “home” can sometimes be threatened by weather damage, fallen trees, and unwanted intruders.

To protect the ones you love and enhance the sense of security you and your family feel at home, you need to consider have the following things in place.

Carbon Monoxide, Doors Locks, bolts, and/or chains, Fire extinguisher, Nanny-Camera(s), Reliable home insurance [ Prudential, Safeco, etc, ], Security alarm system [ ADT, Brink, etc. ], and Smoke detectors.

While we are not experts at what products to buy, you can talk to us about what insurance would be best for your need.

You need insurance supported by a local Cass County, Michigan insurance agency that can help you quickly restore order and regain stability.

As a Southern Michigan located home insurance brokerage firm we are here to make sure that you are covered with the insurance you need.

As a broker of insurance in Michigan and the surround region, we partner with more than just one company to guarantee you have the best service and coverage policy at a budget you can afford.

There is no place like home, and Mahar Insurance of Dowagiac, Michigan is here to make sure it stays that way.

Contact us today to review your home insurance policy.

Choosing A Great Insurance Company For Your Cheap Car Online

Replacing your vehicle can be a fun and bittersweet experience.

On the one hand you are going to be buying a new automobile to upgrade on the beater you have been driving around. Or, perhap you are trying to follow the Dave Ramey’s debt snowball program, and are downgrading on purpose to a quality used car your can comfortably afford.

On the other hand you have the stress of trying to get the best deal on car prices, while also deciding on the make, model and features you need, plus the hassle of unloading your existing vehicle without losing too much on a trade-in.

Of course, whichever car you decide to purchase, you will be required by Indiana BMV and Michigan DMV to carry at least minimum auto insurance coverage.

Two of the most important types of auto insurance are liability and comprehensive coverage. [Note: if you follow the link to each term, you will find other articles from Mahar Insurance that explain what they mean.]

Regardless, of the type of vehicle you purchase – new, used, or jalopy. Insurance can be quite pricey. 

According to the 2015 AAA’s annual Your Driving Costs study, you will pay an average of $1,115 per year for auto insurance coverage on an average sedan.

Naturally, this price will fluctuate based on several variables such as, your driving record, the type of car(s) you drive, and even the location where the primary driver lives.

For example – our web marketing specialist, Rob Rohena lives in Nappanee, Indiana. For a 4/3 house and a van and a cars, thus qualifying for a multi-line discount — he averages  $289 per quarter. If he lived in Michigan to rate would be closer to $347 per quarter.

The key is to make certain you are getting the best value for the right amount of coverage, which means you need to work with an independent insurance agency — like Mahar Insurance of Dowagaic, Michigan. 

In fact, here is a non-biased quote from Financial Expert  — Dave Ramey’s website to drive the point home:

… if you’re looking to save hundreds, even thousands, on your insurance costs, consider Dave’s number-one tip: Purchase your coverage through an independent insurance agent, which is an agent who represents several insurance companies instead of working for just one carrier.

Dave Ramey, The Number-One Money-Saving Tip For Insurance. August 24, 2012. DaveRamey.com 

Now back to finding a car ...

While here at Mahar Insurance, we can’t really help you become a master negotiator when it comes to buying the right car at the right price, we can give you some things to consider when you’re looking around the lot or scroll through inventory of vehicles online.

Especially, when you are trying to answer the age-old question of “new or used?”.

Read on with an open mind, and you might just come to a different decision the next time you’re on the car lot, or shopping for a cheap car online.

Things To Consider When Buying A New Car

Ah, that new-car smell. It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s one of the things that people love about climbing into a brand-new car. — Sort of like getting new carpet for your home. In fact, Car Freshener Corporation lists “New Car Scent” as one of its best sellers. 

New Car Scent = Best Auto Insurance Company Michigan

And while they make air fresheners that supposedly give you that same smell for your used car, it just doesn’t seem the same, does it? Still, there are other benefits to buying new — and, of course, there are drawbacks as well.

  • PRO — maintenance: Some manufacturers offer free scheduled maintenance for a set period of time after you buy the car, and you likely won’t need a new battery, tires, etc., for several years after your purchase.
  • PRO — peace of mind: Your new car may have a warranty for up to 10 years, and also is covered by “lemon laws” that could allow for a replacement or refund if the car has serious defects.
  • CON — upfront cost: Depending on the make and model, buying a new car is almost always more expensive (at least in terms of the purchase price) than a used car.
  • CON — insurance cost: Bear in mind that certain makes and models can result in higher insurance costs for you, so feel free to check in with us before you buy.

Other things to reconsider when buying a new automobile:

It’s also worth noting that if you purchase a new car in its first model year (meaning it’s a new model for the automaker), there won’t be many user reviews available, and data on reliability and repairs will be limited.

In addition, sometimes newly introduced cars have some kinks that generally are ironed out by the second and third model years.

These aren’t necessarily serious issues, and the warranty should cover them, but in some instances, you and your car could be headed to the shop more than you’d like.

Things To Consider When Buying A Used Car

Okay, so you do not care about the new-car smell? You are simply looking to save some money on your purchase?

If so, then purchasing a used quality car might be right option for you.

Just remember that while you a looking to save money, you do not want cut-rate insurance. You want great auto insurance coverage at affordable insurance prices. Here’s another Dave Ramey tip related to this discussion.

 One place where you don’t want to skimp on car insurance is your liability coverage. Liability covers property damage and medical bills if you’re at fault in a car accident. It’s also one of the best deals in the insurance world, so make sure your policy includes at least $500,000 in liability coverage.

Dave Ramey, How Much Car Insurance Do You Really Need? December 7, 2013. DaveRamey.com

There are many advantages to buying used, but you will want to be a little more careful. After all, it’s hard to know exactly how well the previous owner treated the car.

As with all things in life you can limit your risk with a little bit of work.

  • PRO — cost: New cars depreciate quickly after they’re purchased. By buying used, you’re letting someone else take that financial hit over the first few years of the life of the car.
  • PRO/CON — reliability: Buying a used car is less of a gamble than it used to be, particularly with the advent of “certified pre-owned” programs many automakers now offer.

However, used cars generally don’t carry the same warranties as new cars, even though the original manufacturer’s warranty is usually transferable to a second owner.

  • CON — maintenance: While a used car theoretically shouldn’t need more frequent maintenance than a new car, you’ll likely need to replace things like tires, headlights, etc., earlier. And scheduled maintenance probably isn’t covered by the automaker.
  • PRO/CON — history: You’ll need to check the car’s title history to make sure it has not been in a serious accident or salvaged. Ask the dealership to provide this information, usually from Carfax.

Of course, whichever car you purchase, the important thing is that it’s a good fit for you. If you have any questions related to your current or future auto insurance policy, give Mahar Insurance a call. If you are located outside our coverage area of Michiana, Indiana, and Illinois, or simply want a second opinion, we recommend you check-out Dave Rasmey’s ELP’s.

 Have fun shopping for your next car /a better auto insurance company — and we’ll see you on the road!

For more info please visit: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/announcing-offer-2500-installment-loans-052900775.html.

9 Auto Insurance Terms Every Michigan Driver Should Know

One of the most important insurance decisions you can make is to protect your personal automobile and recreational vehicles this includes joy riders like – trailers, jet skis, ATV’s, snow mobiles, … I think you get the idea. 

Auto insurance is more than being legal in Michigan

It is important mainly because it protects the people riding them, as well as, for secondary reasons like – keeping you legal in certain states, helping you pay for repairs to the auto, damages to individuals, and sometimes even full replacement of the vehicle.

If an accident happens, and sadly — even when you are extremely careful they still do happen — you need an insurance company you can trust, and one that is a best fit for your needs.

Choosing the right insurance agency & auto insurance provider(s)

With more than 30 years as an insurance brokerage agency here in Southwestern Michigan, we at Mahar Insurance have seen many situations where auto owners have multiple properties with multiple vehicles cross the state lines of Michigan, Indiana, and Illnois and the same cut-rate insurance is supposedly covering everything with equal protection.

The reality is the one types of insurance might be best for one type of vehicle in one state, and not the best option for other type vehicle in another.

For example, if you own a “Classic Car” in Michigan, American Modern Insurance is by far your best option, but, they would not offer ideal insurance to cover your Mercedes C300 sedan in Indiana, as well.

Would you know why? It all comes down to coverages within your auto insurance policy. And, the only way to know your coverages is to understand auto insurance terminology and the governing rules of each auto insurance company you are considering as your local Michigan auto insurance partner.

Auto insurance terms you need to understand auto coverages in Michigan

In most states, liability coverage is mandatory, Michigan is one of them.

Michigan requires you to have no-fault car insurance, which covers injuries and damages caused in a car accident regardless of who is at fault. Michigan’s basic no-fault auto insurance includes:

  • Personal injury protection.
  • Property protection.
  • Residual bodily injury/property damage liability insurance.

Auto Insurance Term #1: Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Personal Injury Protection covers your medical bills and often lost wages. PIP usually also covers the cost of personal services you most pay someone to do for you as a result of a car accident. 

For example, a tow truck might be needed if the accident is so bad you can no longer operator your vehicle.

In Michigan, you are given the option of coordinating your health insurance with your PIP coverage. If you do so, your health insurance will pay for your medical bills up to the limits of your health insurance policy first. Your personal injury protection insurance will cover the rest.

Auto Insurance Term #2: Property Protection (PPI)

This coverage will pay up to $1 million for damages to other people’s property such as buildings. PIP will also cover damages to someone’s car if that car was legally parked, but will not cover a moving car that was involved in the accident.

Auto Insurance Term #3: Bodily Injury/Property Damage Liability (BI/PD)

The purpose of mandating no-fault insurance in Michigan is meant to protect you from being sued after an accident unless:

  • You cause a car accident in which someone was seriously injured or killed.
  • You are involved in an accident with someone who is not a resident of Michigan and is not driving a Michigan registered car.
  • You are a Michigan driver involved in a car accident in another state.
  • You are 50% or more at fault in an accident that causes uninsured damages to another car. You may only be sued up to $1,000 in this instance.

If you are sued after one of the above instances, Residual Bodily Injury/Property Damage Liability (BI/PD) insurance covers your legal liability, up to the limits you select, for damages caused in a covered vehicle accidents.

According to the Michigan Department of Motor Vehicles, the minimum amounts of BI/PD insurance you must carry in Michigan are:

  • $20,000 for injuries or death to an individual.
  • $40,000 for injures or death per accident to multiple people.
  • $10,000 for property damage in another state.

More about BI/PD:

If it is determined that your insurance needs to cover the cost of an accident for which you are sued, most insurance companies will also pay for the lawyer who defended you in Michigan courts.

While the first 3 auto insurance terms mentioned so far are required in Michigan, the next 6 insurance coverages are optional in Michigan.

It is important to note, however, if your car is leased or financed, you might be required to buy certain coverage limits in Michigan, as well.

In fact, some car brand companies, like Toyota, even offer extended insurance services for drivers leasing a vehicle.

Auto Insurance Term#4 Collision Insurance

This optional auto insurance add-on in Michigan pays for damages if your vehicle overturns, or if it collides with another vehicle or object.

Collision coverage is subject to a deductible amount that you choose. The most frequently selected amount in Michigan is $500.

Mahar Insurance allows recommends you select a deductible amount that you feel you can comfortably afford — if there is a collision claim on your policy, this will be the amount you will generally be required to pay.

Auto Insurance Term #5 Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

This pays for damage caused by an event other than a car collision, such as fire, theft, vandalism, or “acts of God“. In additional, it covers damage from hitting an animal and the cost of a rental if your car is stolen. Comprehensive insurance coverage is optional.

Note: Comprehensive insurance is likewise subject to a deductible, which is most commonly the same as Collision … $500.

Auto Insurance Term #6 Medical Payments

Just as its name sounds, Medical Payments coverage applies no matter who is at fault and covers the cost of reasonable and necessary medical care provided to you as a result of a car accident.

Auto Insurance Term #7 Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist

When you are legally entitled to pay for damages to recover for your bodily injury this coverage comes to the rescue. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage generally provideswhat you would have received from the other person’s insurance company if that person had insurance.

62% of Michigan drivers are only insured enough to meet minimum legal standards. This coverage typically comes in handy as a protection if the person you caused the damage does not have enough insurance.

Auto Insurance Term #8 Rental Reimbursement

This coverage can only be purchased along with Collison and Comprehensive.

If you buy Rental Reimbursement Insurance coverage, your Michigan auto insurance provider will reimburse you for rental car charges incurred while your vehicle is being repair at a local auto repair shop after a covered accident.

Mahar Insurance recommends you allow take your vehicle to an auto repair shop approved by your Michigan vehicle insurance company.

Auto Insurance Term #9 Roadside Assistance

Many times if you lease or finance a vehicle your many company like Ford will help you “Go Further” with their own Roadside Assistance programs.

For other types of vehicle ownership, this coverage will cover the cost of labor incurred at the place where your automobile becomes disabled as a result of a mechanical / electrical breakdown, dead battery, flat tire, and/or lock-out.

Some insurance companies, like Progressive Insurance will help you if you run out of gas, run low on some type of engine fuel, or become stuck in some of the famous deep Michigan snow / mud within 100 feet of a road.

If necessary, Roadside Assistance will cover towing to the nearest qualified repair facility.

Confused about auto insurance coverages yet?

We hope this helped clarify things a bit, but, the reality is this are just the basic auto insurance terms.

If you are confused a bit, please don’t feel bad. We have been at this for 3 decades, and every once in a way there is a tricky situation — that even challenges the best auto insurance agents.

One thing, we really hope you realize is that no single auto insurance company can mean the demands and needs of every Michigan resident driver.

In fact, this is the chief reason why Mahar Insurance offers several different auto insurance brands to its clients, [ mainly in Southwestern Michigan ].

The auto insurance companies we work with most frequently in Michigan are:

  • American Modern Insurance – If you live in Dowagiac, Michigan or the surround Southwestern, Michigan area you have mostly likely heard about the Rod & Roll Classic Auto Show of the Chamber of Commerce. Mahar Insurance typically offer American Modern insurance when a vintage / collector car needs insurance.

We particularly like working with America Modern Insurance because they offer Michigan car collector’s an agreed value total loss settlement.

Before the policy activates, you as the classic car’s owner, their underwriters, and the Mahar Insurance team agree on the car’s value and insure it for that amount.

In the event of a total loss, that agreed upon value is the payout amount. The deductible of course applies, but there is no depreciation and no misunderstanding.

  • Foremost Insurance – We like working with this company for auto insurance in Michigan because they accept a broad range of drivers and driving histories.

Best of all, as one of Foremost Insurance’s top Michigan auto insurance agents / insurance brokers,  we can help you choose the right Foremost policy for your auto, so you can go out and enjoy the drive while Mahar Insurance takes care of the paperwork!

There’s also a noticeable “FLO” in how you shop for, buy and own an auto insurance policy.

We recommend you leverage the relationship, Mahar Insurance has as a Progressive Insurance agent / insurance brokerage agency to experience the difference immediately—and continue to, the longer you’re working with us.

We are a Safeco Premier Partner agency, meaning we have a track record of success with SafecoInsurance and exhibit an exceptional level of commitment to all our customers. To learn more about Safeco Insurance contact us.

4 Ways to reduce the cost of your Michigan auto insurance.

Yes, protecting the ones you love, and being a legal driver in Michigan can be expensive. Fortunately, they are things you can do to minimize the costs. Here’s a few:

  • Some vehicle insurance programs offer “Good Driver” discounts in which the better your driving record over time, your rate drops due to you being considered less of a risk behind the wheel.

  • Many insurance companies will offer additional discounts to Michigan auto owners who complete this course from an approved Michigan driving education instructor/ driver training sponsor. Here’s the official Department of State list >>>

  • The most common discount is the multiline insurance . Typically if you do not own property, and vehicle in more than one state, multiline insurance is highly recommended. Basically, if you select to insure your house, vehicles, and/or other types of insurance like health, life, umbrella, etc. with the same insurance brand your get an overall discount. We will discuss when multiline insurance can go wrong shortly.

Well that is all for today. We hope you found this lengthy, yet important article informative and helpful. Should you have any question related to auto insurance terms, vehicle insurance policies, or simply would like a FREE review of your current policy to insure it is best for you, please connect with us.

What Is Insurance Underwriting?

The term “insurance underwriting” is a common, but unclear phase referring to the process of determining risk factors for potential clients.

It is mostly a behind the scenes process; agents and brokers typically use the terms set by insurance underwriters and present them to customers.

The Role of the Insurance Underwriters

It is the job of the insurance underwriter to assess risk and exposures of potential clients and to determine how much coverage the client should receive, how much they should pay for it, or whether even to accept the risk and insure them.

A Technical Definition of An Insurance Underwriter:

“A financial professional that evaluates the risks of insuring a particular person or asset and uses that information to set premium pricing for insurance policies. Insurance underwriters are employed by insurance companies to help price life insurance, health insurance, property/casualty insurance and homeowners insurance, among others.”

How Underwriters Determine Insurance Risk

Typically, an insurance underwriter will use computer programs and actuarial data to determine the likelihood and magnitude of a payout over the life of the policy.

Higher-risk individuals and assets will have to pay more in premiums to receive the same level of protection as a (perceived) lower-risk person or asset.

This helps better explain why obeying the speed limit is a good idea. Essentially it lowers your risk to the insurance provider, thus lowering your insurance premium rate.

Why this term is important to know

Not all life insurance policies are underwritten, however, since some are it is an important insurance term to understand in definition, and impact..

Insurance Underwriting As Profession

Insurance underwriting is big business. According the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here’s what beginning an insurance underwriter looks like across the country.

Insurance Underwriting


Job Duties Are Not Equal

Most insurance underwriters specialize in one of three broad fields: life, health, and property and casualty.

Although job duties are similar, the criteria that underwriters use vary.

For example, for someone seeking life insurance, underwriters consider age and financial history.

For someone applying for car insurance (a form of property and casualty insurance), underwriters consider the person’s driving record.

Assessing Risk and Balancing Opportunity

Insurance companies walk a tightrope between being too aggressive or too conservative in their underwriting duties.

If they are too aggressive, greater-than-expected claims could cut into company earnings; if they are too conservative, they will be out-priced by the competition and lose business.

To learn more about what type of potential risk you bring the underwriting process, and what you can do to reduce it contact your Cass County insurance agency Mahar Insurance of Dowagiac.

If I Have Homeowners Insurance Do I Need Title Insurance?

At Mahar Insurance we sell homeowners insurance, not title insurance,  however, we are right this article to you better understand the difference.

What is title insurance?

According to Candace Wallace, Title Agent at Heritage Park Title in Nappanee, Indiana “there are two types of title insurance policies. They are (1)an Owner’s Policy and (2) a Lender’s Title Policy.”

Understanding the Owner’s Policy

Ms. Wallace continues, “our title company will recommend, not require, an Owner’s Policy to protect the homeowners interest in the property for as long as they own it.”

As we understand it, the title poicy assures you the title company will pay valid claims, both monetarily and with legal defense if needed.

Understanding the Lender’s Title Policy

We caught up with with Tim Weldy, owner of Hometown Mortgage in Bristol, Indiana. To learn more about the Lender’s Title Policy.

“As a mortgage lender we have a great financial interest in the properties homeowners buy. As a result, we require that a homeowner purchase a one-time title insurance policy at closing that protects the mortgage company’s interest in the property during the time it holds the mortgage.”

Can your Homeowners Insurance be replaced by either type of Title Insurance?

Absolutely –NOT —  Title Insurance protects the right of losing a home due too “hidden hazard” that even the best title search performed by the most experienced and capable experts cannot identify; such as missing heirs, forgery, and fraud.

Why Homeowners Insurance is most important?

Whether you are the owner of a new vacation lake home in Edwardsburg, Michigan or have lived in your house on Division Street in Dowagiac, Michigan for years, we know how important your home is to you.

That is why Mahar Insurance sells Homeowners Insurance, which not only protects your house and property from natural disasters, accidental fires, and thief. We work with the best companies in the insurance industry who offer Homeowners insurance that also protects your belongings, yourself and your guests.


Land is permanent, but its ownership is not. Title insurance protect that for you and your lender. In addition, you have put forth a lot of hard work into providing a secure home for yourself and your family.

Talk make certain you have unbiased personal advice on the best combination of home insurance coverage, value and price to protect your hard earned investment talk to Mahar Insurance.

We do not focus on just one set of company brand options like State Farm, or Allstate agents typically do. Instead, we represent several insurance company options, therefore you get the homeowners insurance policy that works best for you.

Contact us today to schedule a FREE 15 mintue, no obiligation Homeowners Insurance Policy Review.

To learn more about Title Insurance check out the resource available at the North American Title Insurance Company >>>